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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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< Q11.6.5 TOC Q11.6.7 >

Question 11.6.6:
Death and Burial: Is getting cryogenically frozen against Judaism?


Such an action involves many difficulties in the law: Does a person the right to consent to such a procedure with regard to himself? What is the status of his wife and children? Are they mourning as if the person were dead? When shall he be revived? Who will decide? etc. These are often theoretical questions, as no revivals as of yet have been successful.

Typically, this question arises for situations where a person is gravelly ill; the approach involves freezing the body for years and then reviving it when some cure will have been found for the sick person's disease. Such a proposal, theoretically amounts to the delaying of the death of a dying person. This is clearly prohibited by Jewish law. While one may not do anything at all to hasten the death of a dying person, one may also not do anything at all to prevent his dying. Such a person has the right to die. Ecclesiastes says: 'There is a time to live and a time to die.' In other words, if there were a trustworthy remedy already available for the disease, and this remedy involved freezing, it would all be permitted. But if there is only speculation that some day a remedy might be discovered, and on the basis of that speculation the process of dying is prevented, that is contrary to the spirit of Jewish law.

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

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