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CMAJ. 2001 Jan 23;164(2):219-22.

Bioethics for clinicians: 22. Jewish bioethics.

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  • 1Joint Centre for Bioethics and Centre for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto, Ont.


Jewish bioethics in the contemporary era emerges from the traditional practice of applying principles of Jewish law (Halacha) to ethical dilemmas. The Bible (written law) and the Talmud (oral law) are the foundational texts on which such deliberations are based. Interpretation of passages in these texts attempts to identify the duties of physicians, patients and families faced with difficult health care decisions. Although Jewish law is an integral consideration of religiously observant Jews, secularized Jewish patients often welcome the wisdom of their tradition when considering treatment options. Jewish bioethics exemplifies how an ethical system based on duties may differ from the secular rights-based model prevalent in North American society.

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