News of coronavirus vaccines have filled the world with a renewed sense of hope and optimism for the coming months. What does the Torah say about such medical innovations?
While the news is welcome, it will also no doubt spark a cacophony of dilemmas, particularly in relation to which countries and indeed which individuals will have priority over receiving the vaccine.
As is the case with regards to many ethical dilemmas surrounding medical advancements, such a debate isn’t a new discussion in the world of medicine or indeed halacha.
The Talmud debates this very idea, concerning a case where a country has control over a natural water supply of another country.
Leaving the minutiae aside, the sages are unanimous in their opinion, that when it is a question of pikuach nefesh – life-threatening circumstance – they must share their resources equally.
This particular debate, however, concerns one society’s economic and health well-being over another society’s basic needs.
The Talmud concludes that one society may not use its water for laundry if another is struggling to provide drinking water for its inhabitants, as one society’s peace of mind does not take precedence over another’s ease of access to life-dependant resources for drinking.
The halachic conclusion of this case may well provide an interesting insight into the discussions that may arise when distributing this vaccine globally.
Which individuals, industries and countries will be deemed more essential than others – and, importantly, who will hold the ethical monopoly on this decision?
- Rabbi Shauly Strom is director of Northern Campuses for Aish UK
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.