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Virtual Talmud

Rabbi Grossman gets it just right on the issue of Judaism’s relationship to bio-ethical issues. Here Judaism radically differs with certain elements of the Christian tradition. Instead of looking for an all-embracing universal theory that runs through every situation–such as the Catholic belief in the concept of life–Judaism privileges the particular. Each situation is a world unto itself demanding a re-weighing and reevaluating of the myriad of values found in Jewish law and thought.

By focusing on the specifics of each case Judaism gives ultimate significance to the individual and his/her particular existence. That said, whose to say that there are not situations when a nose job, breast implants, or growth hormones might be enormously redemptive, allowing a person to live with themselves and stop looking at themselves in the mirror? The fact that every Jewish male receives a brit (circumcision) when they are born signifies that Judaism does not see human nature as an end unto itself. Human beings are meant to perfect themselves, and sometimes that means even their bodies.

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