Heart and Soul

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2 Responses

  1. One Christian's perspective says:

    “And then, in the middle of the procession, I saw her, and the look in her eyes.

    A blanket covered all but her hoary head and one skeletal, desperate arm reaching for something that wasn’t there. Her eyes, though, deeply sunken in a wizened, trembling face, were an irresistible force; they seized my own eyes and simply would not let go, not for the eternity of that fleeting moment. What I saw in those eyes was unfiltered, raw fear. ….. I was pretty sure that a relatively healthy middle-aged adult like me would be rescued if things went awry.

    But should there really be any difference, I mulled there on the gurney, between young and old, sick or healthy, clearly moribund or only subtly so like the rest of us? If a moment of human life is invaluable, is it not so for everyone?

    Which thought made the coda to the apparition so striking, fixing it forever in my mind.” ” – Filed by Avi Shafran

    Rabbi Shafran, every moment of human life is valuable…if not in the eyes of man, certainly in the eyes of God, our Creator.

    Your narrative of an event experienced years ago, will stay for quite a while in my mind. One cannot imagine what that woman was going through. Was she alone ? Did she have family ? Did she know God ? Who was there to comfort and love her ? Does a DNR make a person less in the eyes of man that they cannot be comforted ?

    From your many narratives, you paint a picture of yourself as someone who is sensitive and caring and who loves God. Perhaps, God placed you in that ER for a time when that woman needed to see His face in yours.

  2. Noam says:

    With all due respect, I think that Rabbi Shafran has oversimplified a complex issue and charged it with an emotion that is not really necessary nor helpful. Of course every moment in life is precious, and the gemara in Avodah Zara notes that some buy their ticket to the world to come in one hour. However, that does not mean that every single medical procedure should be done on every single person, and that people with terminal illnesses are halachically obligated to undergo painful procedures that do not have lasting effect. This is a widely accepted halachic concept.

    Of course we would hope and expect that the nurse and all personnel would treated every human with dignity and respect, and not just refer to them with a label. However, that does not mean that the person did not recieve appropriate care, nor that she was neglected. Since it appeared that it was quite the busy emergency room, it is possible to judge the nurse on the side of merit, and posit that she was trying to take care of as many people as expeditiously as possible, and the woman in question did not require care at that particular time. From the description, it appears that what she most needed was a smile and a comforting presence.

    It is also true that those who deal with the injured and dying on a regular basis can become used to patients with terminal conditions, and display more nonchalance than the regular public is used to seeing or would want to see. That does not necessarily mean they care less or have less respect for the patients. It does mean that they have developed coping mechanisms that allow them to care for patients in these conditions without becoming emotionally overwhelmed by the human tragedy that faces them on a daily basis. Of course there is a compassionate balance that needs to be struck between an unfeeling coldness and an immobilizing sense of disaster, but each care provider has to find that for themselves, or they will not be able to function. Some wind up seeming to be more uncaring, some burn out from the emotion. Either way, I think it is unfair for Rabbi Shafran to judge based on the one interaction and with absolutely no data on the circumstances.

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