Stealing Bodies To Prevent Autopsy Permitted On Shabbat


…There is a case recorded of a Jew who died in a hospital on Shabbat and the doctors prepared to perform an autopsy on the body. Rabbi Chayim Elazar Shapiro of Munkatch (Hungary, early 20th century) instructed his students to steal the body from hospital to prevent this degradation to the deceased. Although a corpse is deemed Muktzeh and forbidden to be handled on Shabbat, the Rabbi of Munkatch ruled that for the purpose of preserving the honor of the deceased Halacha would allow transporting the body. (There was an Eruv in the area, and so the Torah prohibition of carrying in a public domain on Shabbat did not apply.)…

I imagine this ruling must be the basis (or at least the partial basis) for the current haredi practice in Israel.


Filed under Bio-Ethics, Haredim

2 responses to “Stealing Bodies To Prevent Autopsy Permitted On Shabbat

  1. Yossi

    the Shulchan Aruch allows removing a corpse from a burning house on shabbos, even where there is no eruv. Doesn’t that tell you something about respect for the body?

  2. Not really. The SA’s concern, if I recall, is with the living relatives who would not be able to withstand the burning of the corpse and would instead remove the corpse from the burning house no matter what the halakha. Therefore, poskim ruled leniently and allowed the removal to begin with.

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