Life or Death




Illness and death affect all human beings, and at some point, each and every one of us may be called upon to make decisions regarding a person struggling with disease or nearing the end of his life. While critical medical situations are overwhelming, the growing trend in contemporary society toward euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide only complicates these issues further. Many in the medical establishment and society as a whole are increasingly pushing families to terminate treatment of their ailing loved ones, based on considerations of “quality of life” — not to mention the financial burden on the hospitals.

Confused, alone, and well-intentioned, many Jewish families with a loved one in the hospital lack the clarity or knowledge to withstand this pressure and may submit to choices that are anathema to Torah values.

When it comes to our responsibility toward a severely ill or dying patient, the Torah is very clear that pikuach nefesh, saving and prolonging life, is the guiding principle. Even while medical professionals push their own agendas forcefully, we must be educated, and insist on handling our issues in light of Torah values.

Life or Death is a much-needed response to society’s changing values. In this easy-to-read yet powerful volume, readers will acquire clarity on the Torah’s views about end-of-life issues, and gain motivation and direction on what each of us can do to save a life.



About Rabbi Tanchum S. Burton

Rabbi Tanchum Shlomo Burton studied at R.I.E.T.S. under Rabbi Yehuda Parnes, shlita, and Rabbi Gershon Yankelowitz, zt"l. He later learned under Rabbi Dovid Miller at the Gruss Kollel in Jerusalem, where he received semichah. Rabbi Burton completed his graduate studies in the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, earning an MSW in clinical social work. He trained for several years at the Viktor Frankl Institute under Dr. Teria Shantall, a close student of Dr. Frankl, and received a Clinical Diplomate in Logotherapy. He has worked in clinical, educational, and chaplaincy settings for over two decades and has been a presenter at mental health conferences and training workshops internationally. In addition, he has written Torah curricula on many subjects, which are used by rabbis around the world. Rabbi Burton is a regular lecturer at the PATH Center, located in Jerusalem, where he also maintains a private practice.