Jewish Resurrection and Organ Donation

The misguided belief that one needs all body parts intact to be resurrected may contribute to the poor rate of organ donation--even for Jews with otherwise untraditional beliefs.

Print this page Print this page

Rationally, of course, those who believe in reincarnation certainly should not object to organ donation. After all, they are going to inhabit a new body anyway! Similarly, those who believe in resurrection should also not object to organ donation. If resurrection is the blessing that most who believe in it hold it to be, God should surely be trusted to resurrect us in a better body than the one in which we died.

However one conceives of life after death, the important thing to note is that saving life in the here and now clearly and indubitably takes precedence over whatever one believes about future resurrection. If there is to be bodily resurrection, God must surely, as Saadiah says, create the individual anew, and the Eternal can be trusted to have ample ability to restore all organs and bodily tissues, which, given that the person died in his or her old body, God will need to do at that time anyway. In the meantime, we live under the divine imperative to save the lives we can, and organ donation is one important way to do that.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff

Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff is Rector and Sol and Anne Dorff Professor of Philosophy at the American Jewish University in California.