Halachot of Treating a Terminal Ill Patient and a Person Living with Dementia

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, Rabbi Uri Ganzel, Rabbi Shaul Bruchi

Therefore, let every faithful man pray to You upon discovering [his sin] (Tehillim 32:6) […] – Rav Nachman Bar Yitzchak says: ‘upon discovering’, this is death.

(Berachot 8a).

The capabilities of modern medicine to prolong life and impact the process of death raises halachic and ethical questions: When is there an obligation to prolong life and when can one abstain from doing so? When is it proper – and when is it permissible – to seek out palliative care alone, a treatment with the goal of improving patient quality of life even if it does not prolong it? What is the weight that one must grant the explicit or evaluated wishes of a patient when determining how to treat him?

In the chapters before you we will discuss the issues regarding a terminally ill patient, as well as the topics related to treating a person with dementia. The main part of each chapter is an abridged halachic summary, with expanded discourse in the footnotes. Some of the chapters open with an introduction and raise halachic and ethical questions.

How should one practically act?

It is important to emphasize that that which is written in this booklet is only the halachic principles that act as the basis for these matters and not their implementation in practice. Practical ruling varies from case to case, and one should not extrapolate from one situation to another. For practical questions, one should consult a rabbi who is an expert in the field, and we recommend reaching out to us.

To Reach Out to Tzohar Ad 120 Call Center: Call *9253


1. introduction

2. Ethical Practice: An Overview

3. The Definition of a “Dying Patient” in this Essay

4. The Obligation to Seek Out Medical Treatment

5. Respecting the Patient’s Wishes

6. Life-Prolonging Treatment for a Patients In Pain

7. Providing Treatment for the Relief of Suffering on Shabbat, or When Treatment Conflicts with Another Halakhic Prohibition

8. Treating a Patient Whose Chances of Survival Are Very Low

9. Artificial Respiration

10. Artificial Feeding

11. Medication

12. Painkillers

13. Medical and Nursing Care for a Dementia Patient

14. The Fulfillment of Mitzvot by a Dementia Patient

15. Treatment of a Patient in a Persistent Vegetative State (PVS)

16. Praying for a Dying Patient

17. Telling a Patient the Truth About His Medical Condition

18. The Status of the Family in the Decision-Making Process

19. Power of Attorney and Living Wills

20. Recommendations for Filling out Medical Power of Attorney forms and Living Wills

21. Conclusion

Sending a question about the article

אתיקה - לפנייה בכתב ניתן למלא את הטופס - אנגלית



Do you have a question? Fill out the form

digits only

אנא כתבו כאן את שאלתכם

Especially in this difficult time,
Do you have a question and wish to consult with us?
We are happy to assist you – call now

At no cost

Skip to content