Jewish Medical Directives for Health Care

Due to all of the media attention around the Terri Schiavo case, it seemed timely to remind people to get your has-v’halila-wishes in writing now, while you’re still fine and can make these sorts of decisions. Then distribute them liberally and discuss them with your family. This has the potential to save everyone (including loved ones trying to make “the right decision”) a lot of suffering, and to make sure your wishes are followed.
There are some Jewish forms that can help make that happen.
This one is amazing (if you have trouble with the link, go here and click on the .pdf download link for “Jewish Medical Directives for Health Care”). It lists a whole range of possible situations with which one might be faced, and a number of decisions one might be able to make about one’s care–all considered acceptable according to halakha, and when there is a difference of opinion among rabbis, it’s indicated. So you fill out the form by checking a box next to your preferred decision, and you’re left with a very detailed list of your wishes, including lots of stuff you probably wouldn’t have thought of on your own. There’s also a form in the pamphlet for Durable Power of Attorney rights–that is, the assigning of rights to a specific person to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are not able.
Highly, highly reccomended.
For a more general DPA form crafted according to halakha, you can go here.
For an even more general (ie not Jewishly connected) DPA form, go here.
(Thanks to Ruth for the bottom two links.)

7 thoughts on “Jewish Medical Directives for Health Care

  1. Thanks for letting people know about these documents, Danya…but advance directives are hardly going to cover all cases–what you need to prepare is a HEALTH CARE PROXY — which give someone you trust the Power of Attorney to make decisions for you in the case that you cannot.

  2. Our estate lawyer (in California) liked the forms from Jlaw.com and incorporated them nearly in their entirety into our other documents. His only concern was that we give three examples of shuls, rabbis, or organizations that could be consulted if there were any questions. By defining what sort of Jewish interpretation we were after (i.e. traditional / orthodox), he felt that it would then take care of most cases.

  3. “Approved by the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement” do the forms work for Orthodox Jews as well?

  4. “By defining what sort of Jewish interpretation we were after (i.e. traditional / orthodox), he felt that it would then take care of most cases.” This is not the greatest idea, especiialy in the Orthodox world, which, as an honest expression of Jewish diversity, has several opinons on most topics, this one included.
    (Reform and Conservative movements by contrast, have a centralized rabbinic body that can issue offical positions of the movement.)

  5. I still support our lawyer’s request, since “Orthodox” is more specific than “Jewish,” no? Also, by his request to list three rabbis / organizations as examples of whose opinion we would accept, I think we are narrowing down problems that might be caused by “diversity” rather well.

  6. Another good example of how well and probingly Jewish tradition anticipates and deals with “modern” problems.

  7. Before anyone signs any ‘living wills’,
    can someone point me to what happenned to the guy who woke up from a coma after 19 years?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.