• How should patients and family members approach DNR choices?
  • How aggressive should end-of-life patients be with healing treatments?
  • When is it appropriate to allow hospice to take over a patient's care?

Principles that are axiomatic to the Jewish perspective on life, medicine and healing include the obligation to do our utmost to preserve human life, to reduce illness and suffering, to strengthen health, and to increase quality of life as much as possible.  Many times however, the circumstances of a patient's "end-of-life" stage of illness can bring some of these principles into tension with one another, thereby raising extremely sensitive questions and complex issues. 

In such cases, establishing a response to these issues requires the prioritization of the principles that are in conflict. Thus, the three questions posed above can often reflect a very fundamental and often impossibly difficult question, such as: 

What should take higher priority, preserving/prolonging the patient's life, or reducing their pain/suffering?

Even as an academic exercise, the daunting nature of this question defies any attempt at smooth resolution. But when it confronts a family in real life at a time of overwhelming illness, vulnerability and fear, this question may cause paralyzing uncertainty about how to proceed.

For any such circumstances, it is imperative that patients and family members recognize two essential points: 

  1. All such questions should not be faced alone. Counsel and guidance based on Jewish law is always available. 
  2. Jewish law recognizes that no two cases are exactly alike. Therefore, in each individual circumstance, comprehensive consultations with an expert Rabbi as well as specialist medical professionals is crucial in order to establish the most appropriate path forward.

For over two decades, CMC has been counseling patients and family members throughout the Chicago area concerning end-of-life issues such as those mentioned above. CMC connects patients and families with local Rabbonim who are expert in the end-of-life field, so that they may be reassured of having authoritative halachic answers that are tailored to their specific individual circumstances. 

To request CMC guidance and/or support regarding an end-of-life issue or for any patient and/or family member struggling with illness, please call CMC or click this link to visit CMC's website.
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Rabbi Aron Wolf
Chicago Mitzvah Campaign
2939 W Touhy Ave
Chicago, IL 60645
1-866-MY RABBI (1-866-697-2224)