Published Work

Medical Emergencies and the Non-Jew: Halakhah Adapts to New Realities

Body and Soul in Judaism | 01/01/1991

Today if is taken for granted that discrimination between individuals is unfair and illegal. This idea is clearly stated in the Constitution and laws of the United States. When we move to the field of halakhah, however, we are dealing with an alternate legal system where the concept of discriminatlon is understood differently. On many issues, the halakhah seems to treat Jews and non-Jews unequally. For example, the Torah prohlbits us from charging Jews interest when we loan them money. When it comes to non-Jews, however the Torah says that it is permissible to charge interest on a loan and according to some explanations it is even a fulfillment of a positive commandment. The Torah teaches that there is an obligation to save a Jew who is in danger. In the case of a non-Jew however there is no such obligation and in certain circumstances we are actually prohibited from saving him. Even the golden rule “love you neighbor as yourself” does not extend to non-Jews because non-Jews do not fall with the category of “neighbor”.

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