Sanctity of Life vs Quality of Life

The mishnah in Pirkei Avos 4:16, says that our life is merely a prozdor, a waiting room, for the “banquet hall” that is the Next World. “Prepare yourselves in the waiting room, so that you may merit to enter the banquet hall,” the mishnah instructs. 

Our time in this world earns us eternal life in the next world. Therefore, every moment we spend in this world has a value that is unfathomable to us. As Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, eloquently expressed, “Hachaim koneh nitzchius b’chol rega — Every moment that a person is alive, they acquire Eternity.” 

Life has an intrinsic sanctity and profound value that cannot be defined or diminished by anyone’s assessment of how much longer it will last or what its quality is.

According to Torah, a doctor is not permitted to help someone end their life, nor is a person allowed to end their own life, with or without outside assistance.

The reason is simple: Our bodies do not belong to us. Both body and soul are given to us by G-d, and we are obligated to care for them. 

This is not to say that life must be extended at all costs and in all cases. End-of-life decisions are extremely complex, requiring a qualified rabbi to assess each situation according to its specifics. 

It is important to remember that these Torah decisions are not based on the “quality” of the life in question as defined by society, or even by the individual themselves, but by the Torah’s definition of the sanctity of that life.

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1 . Sign a halachic living will to protect ourselves in case of medical emergency and encourage everyone in our family to fill one out, as well.

2 . Seek the guidance of a qualified rabbi in any case that involves life-and-death medical decision-making, or call Chayim Aruchim's 24-hour hotline: 718-ARUCHIM (278-2446)

3 . Read as many of the resources below in order to be aware of and appreciate the Torah's view of life's sanctity, and resist the cultural trend that assesses life by its quality.



keynote address at the Institute for Jewish Ethics. An explication of the Torah view of life and death

The Sanctity of Life


Rabbi Zohn is the director of the Chevra Kadisha of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens and the founder and president of NASCK, the National Association of Chevra Kadisha

NOTE: If you are an attorney and would like to acquire CLE credit by watching this presentation, click HERE

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The Murder of Alta Fixsler: Coming to the US?


NOVEMBER 25, 2021

The answer to the question posed in the title: It’s already here. Referring only occasionally to the Alta Fixsler case, this is a report from the trenches, communicated by those literally fighting to protect sanctity of life in America’s hospitals. Includes important, potentially life-saving advice.

Presented by Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz, Vice President of Agudath Israel; Rabbi Benzion Leser and Mrs. Leah Horowitz Chayim Aruchim coordinators; Rabbi Shloma Sperber, parent

Sanctity of Life & the Importance of a Halachic Living Will


Interview with Dr. Howard Lebowitz. Rabbonim explain the importance of having a halachic living will.



Explanation of the Medrash, by the Torah Temimah

Medrash Rabbah Toldos 65:9

Rav Moshe Feinstein, ztz"l

from Darash Moshe, Parshas Mas'ei (in Hebrew)


Rav Moshe Feinstein, ztz"l

from Igros Moshe, Yoreh Deah 2 174:3

Prolonging the life of a goses who is pain

Discussion of Igros Moshe

Yoreh Deah 2, 174:3, from Mishneh Halachos

Rav Moshe Feinstein, ztz"l

from Igros Moshe, Choshen Mishpat 2, 73

Rav Eliezer Yehuda Waldenburg, ztz"l

from Tzitz Eliezer

How much effort should a person exert in order to prevent the cremation?