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Surgery operation for one’s father ?


Rabbi David Sperling

Tishrei 25, 5780
If the son is the doctor, can he make surgery operation for his father? How to understand it from Halacha?
Shalom, Thank you for your question. There is a Mishna in Sanhedrin (page 84b) that states “These are the transgressors who are strangled in the implementation of the court-imposed death penalty: One who strikes his father or his mother ...”. The Talmud goes on to state “The Gemara explains: As a dilemma was raised before the Sages: What is the halakha with regard to whether a son may let blood for his father? Is he liable for wounding his father? Rav Mattana says that it is written: “And you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18); just as one would want others to heal him when the need arises, one must heal others when the need arises. It is prohibited for one to do to others only those actions that he would not want done to him. Therefore, it is permitted for one to heal his father even if the procedure entails wounding him. Rav Dimi bar Ḥinnana says: This is derived from the juxtaposition between one who strikes a person and one who strikes an animal. Just as one who strikes an animal for medical purposes is exempt from paying restitution, so too, one who strikes a person for medical purposes is exempt from liability. The Gemara relates: Rav did not allow his son to extract a thorn from him, due to the concern that his son would unwittingly wound him. Mar, son of Ravina, did not allow his son to pierce his blister, lest he wound him, which would be an unwitting violation of a prohibition.” The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 241,3) rules in line with Rav in the Talmud, that a son is forbidden from operating (or drawing blood) from his parents. This is ruling of the Rif and Rashi. However, the Rema in his comments explains like the Rambam, that only if another doctor is available do we restrict the child from operating, but if no other doctor is available, the son should operate to alleviate the pain of the parent. Later day Rabbis rule that a child should make great efforts to find someone else to operate, or give an injection etc (any action that may draw blood) – and only if there is no other alternative, then the child should heal their parents. I hope this is of some help - Blessings.
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