BDE: Rabbi Dr. Moshe David Tendler Passes Away At 95

Rabbi Professor Moshe Dovid Tendler

NEW YORK (VINnews) — Rabbi Dr. Moshe David Tendler, the son-in-law of Hagaon Rabbi Moshe Feinstein and a world-renowned expert on Jewish medical ethics, passed away in Monsey on Shmini Atzeres at the age of 95.

Rabbi Dr. Tendler received his B.A. and M.A. from New York University and completed his doctorate in microbiology in Colombia University in 1957. He was ordained at Yeshiva University in 1949 and served as rabbi of the Community Synagogue in Monsey, as well as serving as Professor of Biology and senior Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University for many years. Many responsa in Igros Moshe were addressed to Rabbi Tendler, who maintained a close personal relationship with his father-in-law throughout his life. Rabbi Tendler’s wife Shifra passed away in 2007.

Rabbi Tendler wrote and lectured widely on Jewish medical ethics and was considered an expert on the matter due to his broad knowledge of Torah and medicine. He translated various medical oriented responsa written by Rabbi Feinstein into English. Rabbi Tendler maintained (although it is generally accepted that this was not the opinion of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein) that complete and irreversible cessation of function of the entire brain renders a person “physiologically decapitated”, and is considered legally dead according to Jewish law.

Rabbi Tendler asserted that once organ donation has been deemed permissible under the given conditions, it is indeed mandatory, falling under the rubric of the legal obligation of Jews to preserve the lives of others.

Rabbi Tendler also wrote extensively on euthanasia, infertility, end of life issues, organ donation, and brit milah (Jewish circumcision), maintaining that a tube should be used when performing metzitzah, suction of blood during circumcision. Serving on an RCA panel on stem cell research, Rabbi Tendler expressed respectful disagreement with the Bush administration’s position which proscribed funding such research.

Tendler was the posek for the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists and its past president.

Rabbi Tendler’s levaya will leave from the Community Synagogue of Monsey on Thursday morning. He will be buried in the Monsey cemetery. May his memory be blessed.

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