Page 30 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 27

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24
J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
earliest days. But Judaism, in order to preserve the dignity of
the human body, prohibited the living from deriving any benefit
from a corpse (Met asur be-hanaah—Avodah Zarah 29b). Feinstein
deals in careful detail with the principle of “benefit.” Does
it constitute benefit if not taken in the form of normal consump­
tion, as mentioned above with regard to the blood transfusion?
At the end of his second responsum, in which he discusses a
transplantation in the body of a Cohen (who would be rendered
unclean by contact with a corpse), he holds that the uncleanness
of the transplanted organ is completely enclosed in the body of
the living patient (tuma belua) and therefore is not forbidden.
Besides, it is soon absorbed by the living body.
A charming variation of this approval is found in the responsum
of Nahum Kornmehl, Teferet Tzvi (New York, 1960) 75. He says
with regard to the prohibition of hanaah from the dead in trans­
plants that the surgery certainly brings no hanaah to the patient,
only misery for days. The hanaah occurs when the transplant
become viable and merges with his body. Since it is now alive,
it has nothing to do with benefit from the dead.
Use of Household and Personal Appliances
In recent years there have been inventions of many new ap­
pliances for personal and household use. One widely used is the
hearing aid. The problem with regard to the hearing aid concerns
only its use on the Sabbath. May it be carried out of the house as
if it were an essential article of clothing? What if it drops and the
owner must pick it up and carry it loose? What if it requires
adjustment during conversation? Does this not generate an electric
spark which might be prohibited as “lighting fire”? It is on the
theory of the electric spark being deemed kindling a fire that
many authorities have prohibited a microphone in the synagogue
on Sabbath, ringing an electric doorbell, answering a telephone,
etc. The Sabbath use of a hearing aid is discussed by Isaac Weiss,
now rabbi in Manchester (Minhat Yitzhak, London, 1955, II,
17-18). He cautions that it should be firmly fastened, rendering
it unlikely to drop. Since the hearing aid is useful in warning
about danger in traffic, which might not be heard if the aid were
left at home, Rabbi Weiss is inclined to permit its being worn
on Sabbath. However, he forbids the use of the microphone, the
difference being that its use would result in public violation of
the Sabbath, while the hearing aid protects an individual from
danger.
There is a growing discussion about tape recorders. The prob­
lem there concerns the erasure of the tape. Since it is forbidden
(on the basis of Deuteronomy 12:4) to efface the name of God,