Friday, October 29, 2010

Combining Opposites: Proud & Humble

The Truth About the Tooth Fairy. By Rabbi Moss.

Question of the Week:
My daughter just lost her first tooth, so I need to know: do Jews believe in the Tooth Fairy? It seems wrong to lie to kids and pretend a fairy gave them money for their tooth. Should I just be up front and give her the money myself instead of creating false beliefs?

This is certainly not a Jewish thing. But I wouldn't call it a lie. It's more like a childish game of imagination. I doubt many kids have been damaged by the discovery that there is no fairy sneaking into their bedrooms at night. And they probably think that it's their parents who are being duped as they pocket the cash.

But there is a potential danger to the Tooth Fairy myth. It rewards children for doing nothing. Losing a tooth is a natural process that requires no effort on the part of the child. They have achieved nothing more than a bit of wobbling, and then you pay them for it. To reward a child for something that will happen anyway is a waste of the incentive power of money.

Even worse, it promotes the dangerous belief that you can get money for nothing. That is far more harmful for a child's future than believing in the Tooth Fairy. I have yet to meet an adult that still thinks fairies put money under pillows, but I certainly know some who still think the world owes them a free ride.

Better reward children for good behaviour, and teach them that hard work pays. When a child does something unnatural and difficult, like sharing their favourite toys even when they don't want to or cleaning up after themselves without being told, that warrants a little deposit under the pillow.

And if you want to capture their imagination, tell them some authentic Jewish wisdom: For every good deed you do, an angel is created to protect you. And every time you hold back from doing the wrong thing, G-d's light shines on you.

It's easy to lose a tooth. It's much harder to lose a bad habit. But good deeds create good energy. And self-control makes you stronger. That's no fairy tale.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Clinically dead woman wakes up in hospital

Brain-dead Wash. woman comes back to life

The Power of Thought by Rabbi Moss

Question of the Week:
My friend who is not Jewish asked me what makes kosher wine different to other wine. I didn't know what to say. How would you respond to him without getting into all the technicalities?

The Test of a Person's Inside

JLI Opens Fall Semester this Week, Over 14k Students

This week, the Chabad Jewish Learning Institute fall semester will open in over three hundred locations worldwide educating more then fourteen thousand students.

The new six-week course titled “medicine and morals”, will highlight “the Jewish respond to life’s tough decisions”. It will also explore what the Torah and Talmud have to say about difficult medical decisions. What's right? What's wrong? When should we turn to G-d? When do we edge too close to playing G-d? Case histories will shed light in what will be a “remarkable classroom experience”.

In preparation for the new course JLI has sent out a video promo designed to capture one’s imagination in deciding the right course of action in life’s tough decisions.

Thank you for joining us for Lesson One

Thank you for joining us for Lesson One of Medicine and Morals: Choosing Life. The central theme of our lesson was the nature of our obligation to seek healing. To what degree are we obligated to preserve our own health, and what discretion do we have in regards to our decisions regarding medical care?

We began by considering the ethical foundation of seeking medical care. Unlike some other faith traditions that have seen the pursuit of medical care as interference with G-d’s plan, Judaism sees the pursuit of medical care as fully consonant with our faith in G-d. As humans, we are empowered by G-d to partner with Him in perfecting an imperfect world. Thus, intervening with nature to heal the sick is no different than fertilizing soil or planting a field. Medical intervention is wholly compatible with our belief that G-d is the true healer, and while prayer and spiritual pursuits are appropriate and important responses to illness, they in no way preclude the responsibility to seek appropriate medical care.

When a patient is terminally ill, there is an obligation to seek out treatment that is successful more than 50% of the time, in spite of the fact that that the treatment may not always be successful and may involve certain risks.

Patients, however, sometimes refuse to undergo treatment. A major underpinning of secular medical ethics is the right of autonomy, and so long as patients clearly understand the implications of their choices, patients may not be compelled to undergo treatment. Their life is considered their own business, and they may not be pressured into following the doctor’s recommendation, no matter how ill-advised the doctors find their choices.

Practically speaking, Jewish law rarely allows people to compel others to accept treatment. It allows forcible intervention only if the patient is critically ill, the treatment is accepted by all doctors at that location as proven to cure and is not risky, persuasion is impossible, and the use of coercion will not itself precipitate death. Yet unlike the secular position, Judaism is not neutral to the choice of patients, and even when coercion may not be applicable there may be an obligation to seek out available medical care.

Looking forward to seeing you next week, when we will discuss the ethics of organ transplant.

Welcome to Medicine and Morals

Dear Student,

Welcome to Medicine and Morals, in which we will have the opportunity to explore contemporary medical dilemmas from the perspective of Jewish ethics. The paternalistic medicine of yesteryear is gone, and a foundation of modern medicine is patient autonomy, the right to choose one's treatment or no treatment at all. But what happens when a patient makes bad choices? Does a patient have the right to ignore medical advice? And are we ethically bound to allow the patient to make unwise decisions?

One of the most beloved of American poets, Robert Frost, describes the capricious nature of choice:

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

The took the other, just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leave no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

--Robert Frost

Judaism has a somewhat different view of how to make decisions while standing at the crossroads:

“I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. You shall choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

If to be human is to have choice, to be moral is to make the right choice. And Judaism provides us with guidelines about how to choose wisely.

Lesson One of Medicine and Morals is entitled, “Choosing Life,” and examines a case study in which a young girl decides that she would rather die than undergo the transplant that doctors say is needed to save her life. Is the decision hers to make? Is she free to choose death? Can we—must we—intervene on her behalf?

Looking forward to discussing this and more this week when we meet at the Chabad Torah Centre.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

CME Credits in Canada

The credits that we have are continuing education credits for professionals who are already practicing medicine, not credits for college students.

A few weeks ago I was in touch with the RCPSC and received the following answer as to whether doctors in Canada can use AMA credits for relicensing:

Being that SUNY Downstate Medical Center is a joint-sponsor of our program, is a physicians organization (as defined by the Royal College) and is accredited by the ACCME, Canadian physicians attending Medicine and Morals may record MOC Section 1 credits. This applies to all provinces in Canada and there is no need to have this program reviewed for accreditation by one of the Royal CollegeAccredited CPD Providers.

I am in touch with the Royal College about how to report credits. I will update you as soon as I hear back from them.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Story

Every person has a story. In fact, every person is a story.
Our stories are never-ending;
they are as large as life, and as circular as time itself.

Each of our stories overlap and interconnect,
- even with other people’s stories -
growing in strength, import and character.

When we listen to stories we are empowered.
Stories provoke us to look inward,
revisiting our lives’ twists and turns,
the decisions we’ve made and those that we haven’t.

Stories provoke us to look outward,
recognizing and appreciating how stories
are threads joining us to a communal fabric,
connecting us to others and to the broader world.
And ultimately, back to ourselves.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Should We Chop Fingers Off? by Rabbi Moss

Question of the Week:
We had a baby boy and we are very excited. But we are still undecided about the Bris. I have issues with it. I am aware of the spiritual significance of the circumcision, but I have much more practical concerns:

1) Is it not barbaric to put my baby through the pain of a medically unnecessary operation?

2) He was born uncircumcised, why should I mess with his natural state?

3) My son has no say in this, and can never reverse it. Shouldn't I let him choose later on in life if he wants this done to him?

Do you have any rational answers?

Imagine the following scenario. Your baby is born, healthy and well. But there's something unusual. He has six fingers on each hand. An extra little growth protrudes right next to each pinkie.

Bucking The Trend; Lubavitch e*Torah

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Shpy in the NY Times!

For a quarter century, Jewish children have hungrily followed the kooky adventures of the Shpy, the adventurous hero of The Moshiach Times, a family-friendly magazine that is published six times a year in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. (Think Highlights, but Jewish.)

With a closet full of disguises and more gadgets than 007, the Shpy volunteers his services when innocent people or ancient traditions are imperiled. He escapes from a giant Mixmaster when investigating a case of stolen hamantaschen, and thwarts a mysterious bee infestation that nearly spoils the fall holiday of Sukkot. In one installment, he invents a repellent to keep the sinister Yetzer Hora at bay, complete with a catchy slogan: “Let us Shpray.” (The softening of the S, when the Shpy shpeaks, so to speak, is meant to evoke Humphrey Bogart.)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

CME Accreditation for Medicine and Morals

As previously reported, our upcoming fall course, Medicine and Morals, has been approved by the American Medical Association for up to 30 AMA PRA Category 1 credits. Upon attending your JLI classes, doctors can earn credits toward their license renewal. These credits are awarded on a national basis and are therefore equally accepted in all 50 states.

In order to qualify for the credits the doctors will take an (easy) online test at the end of the course, for which they will be charged a $60.00 processing fee.

To assist doctors in passing the test, JLI's Flagship Department will be releasing a review sheet at the end of the course for them to refer to. If you do not qualify with their first attempt, you will be able to retake the test as many times as they wish.

What to expect at Chabad...


We're going away this weekend...please join us!

Is your life sometimes like taking a taking a coffee to go, always rushing without time to slowdown and enjoy? Indulge your body and soul with the finest of Jewish learning and recreation at the Shabbat Weekend Retreat this weekend.

The retreat features first class accommodations and exquisite Kosher cuisine; a synergy conducive to exploring tradition and interpersonal relationships with master scholars and teachers.

Please visit for more information.