The age-old adage – “does the person make the job or the job make the person?” is being framed quite differently today. The rewording does not change the question: Are we in charge of our destinies? Are we shaped by our surroundings? Or are we a product of our genetic makeup? The nature-nurture argument has not gone away. It is being fought on different grounds: grounds that often frighten people into avoiding scientific facts and claiming that they just do not understand.
It says in the Torah “for I the Lord am your healer” (Exodus 15:26). If so, why do Jews practice medicine and consult doctors? Why don’t we simply pray to God to heal us like Christian Scientists?
On July 19, 2002, Col. Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut, is scheduled to blast off in the space shuttle Columbia from Cape Canaveral, Florida. A few weeks ago, Rabbi David Golinkin was interviewed by “ABC Nightly News with Peter Jennings” for a halakhic reaction to that event. The interview has not yet been broadcast. In the meantime, Rabbi Golinkin has written a formal responsum, which we are reprinting here below.
Last week Dr. Avi Ben-Avraham and his Italian colleague created an uproar when they announced that “the first human clone will be born in Israel”. Dr. Ben-Avraham even claimed, according to Der Spiegel, that “unlike Catholicism, the Jewish religion does not absolutely oppose the idea of cloning. The time has come to cross the laws of nature”. As a matter of fact, Judaism has yet to develop a clear approach regarding cloning, and the subject demands careful study.