The Mexico City kehillah was the latest on the map to see its landscape transformed with respect to end-of-life issues through the dedicated work of the Chayim Aruchim organization, a division of Agudath Israel of America.
On Wednesday, 11 Elul, Rav Eliezer Gewirtzman shlit”a, Member of Machon Chayim Aruchim, was in Mexico City to deliver two major shiurim on an array of pertinent end-of-life issues. The first shiur was delivered at Kollel Shevet Achim to its yungerleit, who are currently learning sugyos pertaining to these issues. The second shiur was an intricate four-hour presentation at Bet Haknesset Shaare Shalom to nearly two dozen leading Mexico City rabbanim and Hatzolah members. Due to the sensitivity and complexity of these life-and-death halachos, and to prevent any misunderstanding, a professional interpreter translated the shiur to Spanish as it was delivered.
Rav Gewirtzman detailed intriguing medical realities regarding common life-threatening conditions, such as strokes, heart disease and cancer, and how they affect halachos on refusing treatment, life support and the like. Furthermore, Rav Gewirtzman advised the rabbanim how to best deal with the prevailing culture in government and the medical profession that prioritizes so-called “quality of life” versus life itself – often squarely at odds with halacha and Torah values. “Unfortunately, these shailos constantly come up in every community,” Rav Gewirtzman explained. “It is imperative that rabbanim are properly equipped to deal with them, as well as that community members should be aware of what shailos need to be asked in such instances.”
Mexico City is the latest city in which Chayim Aruchim delivered this vital presentation to local rabbanim. Rav Gewirtzman has traveled to communities in the Northeast, as well as to Chicago, Toronto, Los Angeles, and Miami, while answering daily life-and-death shailos presented by individuals and rabbanim from around the world. Chayim Aruchim is scheduled to visit Dallas and South Africa in the near future, with events in other communities in the works as well.
Rav Mordechai Tussie shlit”a, a prominent Rav and Rosh Kollel in Mexico City, relates that his fellow rabbanim are extremely appreciative of Chayim Aruchim’s involvement and are determined to work together with the organization and local medical professionals to deal with any shailos that may arise in the future. “The reception has been extremely positive; we’ve never anything like this shiur before,” Rav Tussie attests. “We all encounter shailos like this all the time and are eager to know more.”
Rabbi Eliyahu Simcha Bamberger, who attended to represent Agudath Israel’s National office, commented, “This was an extraordinary event. Mexico City is a very large and thriving kehilla, and the rabbanim who represented the kehilla paid close attention to everything that Rav Gewirtzman said. It should be of great benefit to them as they guide their kehillas on these very sensitive matters.”