Reflections from the Jewish Tradition
This chapter addresses how the textual tradition of Jewish thought regards the problem of human suffering in theological and moral terms. It highlights core differences in the tradition that have come to define and delineate one of the most salient issues in American bioethics: the way that human suffering and its tragic or redemptive nature is at stake in debates as varied as stem cell research, end-of-life care, and reproductive policy. The chapter looks at the historical view of suffering, from the classical to early and postmodern thinkers, and then sketches some outlines for how the view of suffering in Jewish thought is developed and debated, finally showing how one rabbinic text structures a response of reversibility between healer and patient. The chapter concludes with some ideas about how an appreciation of the different voice that Judaism brings to ethics may largely be because of its different evaluation of suffering.
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