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A Bloody Mitzvah

Friday, 21 August, 2020 - 11:46 am

Yesterday I had the privilege of being a blood donor. Now, as much as ever, a good supply of blood is needed to ensure that lifesaving transfusions can be performed when necessary. In addition, the testing on donated blood may be able to aid the effort to stem the COVID-19 pandemic.

You might ask why I refer to this as a privilege. Why not a responsibility? It is actually both. If one is medically qualified to do so, one should feel the responsibility. But it is also a privilege since it is a Mitzvah helping another and aiding in the saving of life. As I lay on the chair during the process, I reflected on two news stories that I read in the last few years on related topics.

Early on in the COVID situation, it become clear that plasma donated by those who recovered from COVID, could be very useful in developing therapeutic procedures to deal with the disease. While millions of people have had COVID, the highest percentage of people to come forward to donate plasma were observant Jews.

See here for a few articles on the topic. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/covid-19-mitzvah-orthodox-jews-donate-blood-plasma-thousands-n1232656

https://forward.com/news/national/444562/coronavirus-convalescent-plasma-orthodox-jews-hasidic/

In recent years, there has been a lot in the news about living kidney donors. I read a 2017 statistic, that 15% of living kidney donors were “Orthodox” Jews. This is an astounding statistic. Jews make up only 2% of the US population. Those who are classified as “Orthodox” make up only 10% of that. So we are talking about a statistical non-entity and yet they make up 15% of living kidney donors. (I use quotation marks around the word Orthodox because I have very little use for labels – but I have to use the terms that are out there for the purpose of this discussion.)

See here for more on the topic. https://www.chabad.org/news/article_cdo/aid/4251073/jewish/Rare-Kindness-Kidney-Donor-Rabbi-Donates-His-Liver.htm

https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/community/articles/to-save-a-strangers-life

http://kidneymitzvah.com/

https://www.renewal.org/

What is motivating all this? Walking the walk is way more impactful than talking the talk. When you believe that there is a mandate from Hashem to help others even at a reasonable cost to yourself, you are motivated. This is Tikkun Olam in action. This is loving your fellow as yourself in action. May Hashem bless our world with true healing so that these ideas become obsolete. May Hashem bless each and every one of us with a good and sweet new year, filled with health, prosperity, nachas and meaningful spiritual growth! May he send us the Redemption and the coming of Moshiach speedily!

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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