Home About Us the Rabbis Contact Us


what's new on Revach
Parshas Pinchas: Rav Yehonoson Eibshitz - Where did Zimri the Great Tzaddik go Wrong?

Showering the Night Before a Taanis

Ha Lachma Anya: Rav Eliyahu Dessler - Celebrating Freedom With Poor Bread

Rav Yaakov Edelstein - The Two Words He Wanted to Be Able to Speak

A Night to Remember All Year Round
 
[view all questions in this category]

Section: Questions   Category: Hashkafa
TAGS:death  parent
Hashkafa - the burden of a mother's death
Submitted by anonymous  Answered by Rabbi Tzvi Frank
Question: My mother had terminal cancer and was in the last stages. She hit her head in a fall and was in a coma. She had told me only a week earlier that she did not want to die in pain, and that we should not prolong her life with machines. I made the decision to remove life support I also made the decision to keep her on a morphine drip, and regularly up the dose of morphine in order to alleviate pain, but since she was in a coma, I did not know if she was really in pain or not. Now, years later, I am wracked with guilt feeling that I murdered my own mother. Did I commit a great sin? What can I do to make it right? They told me she was \\"brain dead\\", but, how does anyone know anyway? Should I have left her on life support, against her wishes? Should I have let her die more slowly or in pain by not having her on a morphine drip? And if I am a murderer, is there anything I can do now to get right with God, myself and the law? I am in a lot of emotional pain. Thank You.
Answer: I feel for your pain and for your and your families loss.

Sally, there is a huge difference between forbidding the removal of life support to becoming a murderer! There are numerous complex halachic issues involved and Jewish legal authorities have sparred over this ruling back and forth for many years. You assumed you were doing the right thing by not prolonging your mother's suffering. I wouldn't classify your actions as murderous by any account. That said, it is true that according to many preeminent authorities it is indeed forbidden to remove a person from life support, as life in any form or situation is so precious.

So. What happened, happened. Your intentions were admirable although influenced by a lack of Jewish education.

My recommendation to you based on my conversation with Torah personalities is as follows. The Talmud is quite clear that a person's actions can directly affect a parent's standing after their death. A mitzvah observed on this world by a child can elevate a father or mother's position in their afterlife in a most positive way. It has even been described as infusing them with "life" by your good deeds and mitzvoth which you perform in their memory and for their merit. This is a classic fundamental Jewish concept.

For your mother's merit I would start learning the laws and the mitzvos of the Torah. I am unsure of your current level of observance but you can always add something or improve upon it if you already are observant. If you haven't been observing the laws of Sabbath completely, start learning them and slowly incorporate those mitzvos and laws into your Sabbath observance. If you haven't been lighting Shabbos candles on Friday before sundown, now would be an excellent time to study the laws and meaning behind this practice and begin this special mitzvah that was performed by generations of Jewish women before you!  If prayer was never a big thing perhaps joining a study group to learn the underlying concepts and meaning of prayer can jumpstart a fresh relationship with God.

Through education, understanding and practice you will begin to truly appreciate the beauty of our religion, give your life an extra meaningful dimension and infuse your dear mother with life once more.

If you would like me to refer a number of excellent local organizations or educational material please reply to this email and I will do my utmost to help.

Warmest regards,

Tzvi Frank
posted:2009-01-22 04:32:06


printable version     email to a friend
 

Send Your Comments
Name optional
Display my name?
Yes   No
EMAIL optional
Your email address is kept private.
COMMENTS required
Type Image Code REQUIRED IMAGE CODE
    Most Viewed Lists
  1. "Zissen" Pesach
  2. Toivel Hot water Urn
  3. Bracha for bANANAS
  4. sprinkler on Shabbos clock
  5. shaving body
    Last Viewed
  1. the burden of a mother's death
  2. Flour Grinded after Pesach
  3. new clothing -- shehecheyanu?
  4. Kashering
  5. Basar B'Chalav