Does Jewish Law Oblige Doctors to Risk Their Own Health to Heal the Sick?

Those with greater ability to help are called upon to bear greater risk.

Israeli workers transporting the body of a patient who died from complications of coronavirus in Jerusalem on April 1, 2020. AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images.

Israeli workers transporting the body of a patient who died from complications of coronavirus in Jerusalem on April 1, 2020. AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images.

Observation
April 2 2020
About the author

Shlomo M. Brody, an Orthodox rabbi and a columnist for the Jerusalem Post, directs the Tikvah Overseas Seminars and serves as a presidential graduate fellow at Bar Ilan University Law School.


Two weeks ago, a woman came to my home in Israel wearing a hazmat suit and swabbed my family of seven for COVID-19. Thank God, we tested negative. In Chicago, at the very same moment, several other strangers—doctors, nurses, orderlies—were treating a beloved family member fighting the coronavirus. (He has thankfully since recovered). While not wearing full-body protective gear, those caretakers at least had the benefit of masks and gloves—worn not for the benefit of my relative, but to protect themselves from infection.

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More about: Coronavirus, Halakhah, Jewish law, Politics & Current Affairs