Payment for Organ Donation in Jewish Law

Fred Rosner and Edward Reichman

in The Oxford Handbook of Judaism and Economics

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780195398625
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Payment for Organ Donation in Jewish Law

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Payment for organ donation in Jewish Law is the essence of this article. In Judaism, a physician's license to heal the sick is considered divinely given. The Talmud drives this from the Biblical phrase, “And he shall surely heal.” In fact, according to Maimonides, a physician is obligated to heal the sick, induce remission of illness, and prolong life. Human organ transplantation began nearly half a century ago. Since then, organ donations have been insufficient to meet the needs of patients with diseased organs. This article traces the Halakhic and Talmudic precedents for selling body parts. There is Talmudic precedent for selling body parts, but not organs, and not in a medical or therapeutic context. This article further explains Jewish law forbids receiving financial compensation for fulfilling a meritorious act. Clauses pertaining to organ donation such as obligations to save a life, ownership rights over one's body form the concluding part of this article.

Keywords: Jewish law; Judaism; Talmud; organ transplantation

Article.  6899 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Industry Studies

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