Human action and god’s will: A problem of consistency in jewish bioethics

Noam J. Zohar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The religious legitimacy of medical practice was an issue of serious contention amongst medieval Jewish scholars. For Nahmanides, altering the patient's fate through manipulation of natural causality amounts to circumventing divine judgment. For Maimonides, however, human accomplishment is part of God's providential design; this view generally prevails in contemporary Jewish bioethics. But the doctrine of deligitimizing human intervention continues, even while unacknowledged, to underlie certain contemporary positions. These include arguments within Jewish bioethics about end-of-life decisions, which are therefore imbued with inconsistencies. It is suggested that, given the overall endorsement of modern medicine, the Nahmanidean approach must be explicitly confronted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-402
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Medicine and Philosophy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1995


  • Euthanasia
  • Jewish bioethics
  • Maimonides
  • Nahmanides
  • Naturalism
  • Nature
  • Providence


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