Rabbi Dr. Moshe Tendler, On Rampage, Slaughters RCA for “Dramatic Chillul Hashem” and “Nonsense,” Claims Shitah is “Close to a Blood Libel”


tendler[Video below.] Rabbi Dr. Moshe D. Tendler, a biology professor and Jewish medical ethics expert at the Yeshiva University and rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva Rabbeinu Yitzchok Elchonon, who in the early 1990s developed for the Rabbinical Council of America a health care proxy that determined that brain-stem death constituted halachic death, had strong words for the Rabbinical Council of America on the issue of brain stem death and organ donation.

Rabbi Tendler’s strong remarks, using critical language, were made this past week during a lecture in Eretz Yisroel.

In the video below, Rabbi Tendler calls it a “blood libel” to say that one may harvest organs from a non-Jewish person but not from a Jewish person, for whom it is halachically forbidden. He says he doesn’t see the distinction.

He also refers to the 110-page report issued by the RCA’s Vaad Halacha about brain death as “pages of drivel” and “nonsense.” The study was authored by noted rabbonim Rav Tzvi Flaum, Rav Kenneth Auman and Rav Asher Bush and leans heavily towards the p’sak of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and others, with whom Rabbi Tendler disagrees.

Rabbi Tendler, in his remarks, says that those who he disagrees with have “not the slightest idea of what they are talking about.”

Most gedolei haposkim consider the time of death to be defined by lack of independent respiratory activity, i.e., cessation of breathing. There is a minority opinion that proposes that total lack of brain stem function – brain death – fulfills the halachic criteria of death. Ultimately, the RCA did not take an official stand, but the material presented clearly leaned in favor of the gedolei haposkim who deem cessation of breathing as the deciding criteria. It is with this approach that Rabbi Tendler disagrees.

Click below to watch:

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{Yossi Schneider-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. He keeps on throwing in words, “they will hate us”, or “Chillul Hashem”.

    Those phrases lack, the true and sincere love and caring, that we should all have for our fellow Human Beings.

    We should teach our children to Sincerely care for every Human Being, including their health, property, and happiness. Then we can hope, that HKB”H will, Never-Again, bring on, any hatered towards us Yidden.

  2. Rabbi Tendler stirred up the metzitza ba’peh issue having the government intervene in strictly Jewish affairs. He made sure he was video taped going up on Har HaBais and he informed the welt that Rav Moshe Feinstein held that’s OK to prance on Har HaBais.

  3. We are very lucky to have a rabbinical scholar who is so well versed in Torah and science. It’s about time we start listening to what he has to say. This is a man of integrity, whether you agree with him or not.

  4. The first comment is correct. R. Tendler is following the same approach that his brother in law Rav Dovid testified in the name of his father Rav Moshe – Lack of independent breathing (which is the same as brain death) is the halachic definition of DEAD. The other approach is that death occurs when the heart stops pumping. If anyone every visited a slaughter house you will have noticed that the heart of a cow can be pumping while lying on a table 4 hours after the animal has been killed.

  5. What Rabbi Tendler says on the video is that it is a Chillul Hashem for goyim to hear a claim that one can receive organs from a brain dead goy [because they are dead] but a yid in the same position can’t donate because he is alive.

  6. Catch a glimpse of the crowd at 2:00, 3:00 & 5:30. It looks as if he’s speaking, to the very same people he’s discussing in his topic. Although it may seem like exciting news, I don’t think it appropriate to give this man any attention in general & espescially when he speaks against our real leaders without an ounce of respect.

  7. i listened to this clip,
    i obviously have not heard all of his speech, these though are some of my observations.
    1-he stresses and repeats the “danger” of determining death differently between peoples.
    what if islmic law determines when death occurs as being whatever they determine, does anyone for a moment think that we ought to have them change that.

    so why not the Jewish law as determined by their “halacha poskim”, which is agreed to by many in the medical field.

    why cant he respect that he is not agreed with.

    he is entitled to his opinion but he isnt entitled to force it upon anyone.

    his tone is defensive and his content is condenscending which makes me wonder what his problem is.

    and most oddly what an aged audience i think some of them looked brain deaded by his speech, thak god their heart was beating or they would have been cut up and donated.

  8. Can someone please explain – IS there a difference in halacha, i.e. different criteria, as to when a Jew is dead and when a goy is dead?

  9. the issue here is what the halacha is without regard to what the goyim say or any body’s percieved notion of anti semitism
    history has shown that some of the greatest anti semites never met a jew up close

  10. he is weighing sides of a intricate halachic issue.
    to preface this by saying that “one conclusion would result in chilul hashem” is like discussing if someone owes you 100k and prefacing it by saying “i desperately need a mercedes!”

    Halachic question=halachic debate ON HALACHIC PREMISES ALONE!

    If you don’t get it then you are brain dead, and you’re organs will be snatched

  11. The passionate letter of the esteemed Rabbi Moshe Sherer Z”l, shows that Rabbi Tendler has time and again, brazenly misrepresented and ignored his own father-in-law’s (Hagaon Rav Moshe Feinstien Zt”l’s) psak and directives on this crucial issue, who, according to Rabbi Sherer, was vehemently opposed to the RCA Organ Donor Proxy that Rabbi Tendler authored, and still knowingly promoted and still promotes against Rav Moshe’s wishes, while shamelessly heaping scorn on anyone who dares to disagree with him or point out the truth.

    Thank you, Matzav, for providing in this video, and Friday’s video, a living example of what Korach’s act (And Adosso) must have been like.

  12. rabbi tendler may have an opinion -all agree the ramifications are enormous- however rav tendler oversteps the line when he held the famed seforim of nishmas avrohom at the border ask dr. shulman or the cardiologist dr shechter for the real scoop

  13. To have a halachic dispute among the poskim is one issue; to say they have “not the slightest idea of what they are talking about” since they disagree with your view is an entirely different matter. Unfortunately this statement is the biggest Chillul Hashem.

  14. #9 that is exactly correct respiratory failure does not always indicate brain stem death, but brain stem death by definition always includes central respiratory failure (medulla controlls respiratory drive). The end of the article seems to say that poskim consider respiratory failure as halachik death, thought this would ALWAYS include brain death. I think that the article must be mistaken. The poskem who do not hold by brain stem death must require cardiac death to meet halachik death standards

  15. For the record, there is an incredibly large double standard in the Jewish world when it comes to heated rhetoric.

    Can you imagine what kind of cries we’d be hearing if someone in the “cardiac-death = Halacha” camp used RNDT’s terminology when publicly discussing those who differ?

    Why is it OK for RMDT to talk that way without any criticism? Because his position appeals better to those advocating more organ donation from the Orthodox community?

    Come on.

    The more liberal/tolerant/progressive elements of Orthodoxy would be completely up in arms if any of their opponents spoke this way about them or their opinions.

    Where are the calls for civility and to tone down the rhetoric?

    What hypocricy . . .

  16. While Rabbi Tendler’s rhetoric is usually unfortunate, the facts in the article are not accurate. There are three basic opinions among poskim regarding time of death. The first is cessation of independent breathing. Since breathing is controlled by the brain stem, brain stem death certainly meets this criterion. According to R’ Dovid Feinstein, this was the opinion of R’ Moshe zt”l. (See video at http://www.hods.org/english/videos/video_RDFeinstein.asp) It is also, apparently, Rabbi Tendler’s view. The second opinion is death of the entire brain. This was generally reported to have been the view of R’ Shlomo Zalman; however, it is also reported that he was not sure if medical technology at the time could determine that point without tampering with a goses. It is possible that subsequent medical developments may have obviated that concern. (See video at http://www.hods.org/english/videos/video_RShafran.asp). In any event, Rabbi Tendler, in his speech, did not argue with R’ Shlomo Zalman; he maintained, rather, that he heard from R’ Shlomo Zalman that he really agreed with his approach, but did not trust the doctors in Israel enough to allow such a lenient standard there. The third opinion is that death does not occur until all cardiac and respiratory activity has ceased. This is reported to be the view of R Elyashiv.

    Rabbi Tendler’s invective in his speech was certainly in bad taste, but it is not true that it was directed at R’ Shlomo Zalman, about whom he spoke with great respect. It was directed at his colleagues at YU, Rabbis Bleich, Schachter, and Willig. That is very bad, to be sure, but it is highly inaccurate, to say the least, to imply that he said that R’ Shlomo Zalman did not know what he was talking about.

    I am no fan of Rabbi Tendler’s style of invective, but your report as it stands is itself close to a “blood libel”.

  17. I don’t pretend to have an inkling of the issues involved, but the way he expresses himself about others who disagree with his views is nothing short of abhorrent.

  18. Did r tendler also mention the fact that by Jewish people, right after shechita of an animal you may ear it, however by a non-Jew it would be considered aiver min hachai as long as it’s still fluterring. There is a difference in halachic death by human like there is by animals between Jews and non-Jews.

  19. #7 “We are very lucky to have a rabbinical scholar who is so well versed in Torah and science. It’s about time we start listening to what he has to say. This is a man of integrity, whether you agree with him or not.”

    I was unaware that men of integrity use this type of language, lie and are unable to accept an opinion other than his own.

  20. I completely concur with #30.
    One cannot begin a strictly halachic discussion with any bias. Even one as holy as Chillul Hashem. Kudos #30


  21. No where in this video clip does RMDT attack the other sheetos with regard to determining Halachic death. He is clearly arguing with the document that the RCA had drafted demonstrating certain mistakes in their scientific understanding of halachic brain death only. He also takes issue with the “blood libel” psak which distinguishes between Yidden and Goyim. As far as I know the Gedolai Yisrael have not ruled as such and RMDT has every right to forcefully state his opinion.
    People have a tendency to villify and polarize camps into Modern/Charedi. Lets look at the facts and not be so hasty.

  22. #46:
    One may forcefully state one’s opinion, it is highly inappropriate for a man of R’ Tendler’s stature to forcefully state that the opinion of other rabbonim and talmidei chachamim is “110 pages of drivel.”

  23. To answer #27: The definition of when a human being is regarded as dead is identical for Jews and non-Jews – and no one has suggested differently. R. Tendler is unfair here. The position is NOT that the brain-dead gentile is called dead. Rather, the position is that he is NOT dead, people SHOULDN’T be cutting him up to take his organs, BUT if they’re doing it anyway, it’s OK for a Jew to take it. This IS a morally justifiable position and will not lead to a blood libel.

  24. #42’s comment about the difference between the definition of death for an ANIMAL being different for Jews and for non-Jews is based on Chullin 33a and is correct — to a point. According to the Rambam (Melachim 9:13), that is the halacha. But there is still an issur d’oraisa to eat the animal until it stops fluttering (Rambam, Shechita 1:2; see Sanhedrin 63a). According to Rashi (Chullin 121a), that issur is only d’rabbanan.

    But according to Rashi(Chullin 102a), the halacha is that the distinction in the definition of death is only true in regard to non-kosher animals (which Jews can’t eat anyway); regarding kosher animals, slaughtered-but-still-fluttering is called “dead” for non-Jews too.

    At any rate, this is all irrelevant to the definition of death for a human being, as per my previous posting.

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