Harav Dovid Cohen Shlita will deliver a shiur on “End-of-Life Issues and Halacha” for medical professionals, and pre-health students. Rabbi Cohen is the recipient of the Rabbi Raphael Zalman Levine Endowed Distinguished Talmudic Scholar Award presented by Touro University, endowed by Joel Margolis of Albany. The shiur will take place at Touro’s Lander College for Women, 227 West 60th St, N.Y.C. on Feb. 26, at 7 p.m. and will be available virtually as well.

Issues, Questions

Culled from the rav’s real-life experience, the lecture, will explore complex issues and questions that regularly arise, including:

  • • The controversy regarding brain death and halacha
  • • What are the criteria that define the obligation to keep a terminally ill person alive, and when do they no longer apply?
  • • A discussion of the laws of goses, including “pulling the plug,”
  • • To operate or not?  Without an operation, the patient will survive for a limited period of time; whereas the operation may completely cure or result in death.

“Pikuach Nefesh is one of the most basic issues in halacha. It even supersedes Shmiras Shabbos. It is important to define what halachic death is. The question of whether or not brain death is truly death has been an issue for many decades. We shall take a stand on these issues,” said Cohen.

Who Was Rabbi Levine?

“Rabbi Levine of blessed memory had enormous respect for those exceptional individuals who provide clear and decisive halachic guidance to our community. How very appropriate that this award, in his memory, goes to an extraordinary scholar who has provided lucid and timely guidance to so many people for so many decades,” said Margolis.

Levine, a musmach of Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik of Brisk and Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinski, and devoted student of Rabbi Boruch Ber Leibowitz, came to the United States in 1923. After a brief teaching career at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, he moved to Albany. Eschewing any rabbinic titles, he spent the next six decades deeply involved in studying and teaching Torah, while supporting his family, first as an insurance salesman and then, for several decades, as a respected staff member of the New York State Comptroller’s Office.

When Levine arrived in Albany, the concept of a Torah scholar serving as a lay communal leader was unheard of, and his pioneering role set an example for others. Levine was a devoted communal lay leader and an accomplished Torah scholar and also enjoyed the friendship of several generations of North American Torah luminariest

Torah Scholarship

Touro University’s Rabbi Raphael Zalman Levine Endowed Distinguished Talmudic Scholar Award is endowed by Margolis of Albany, to honor individuals who have made exceptional contributions in the field of Torah scholarship and dissemination. The first recipient of the award was Rav Asher Weiss. Rav Dovid Cohen is the second recipient of this award and this is the second lecture that Cohen is delivering as the recipient.

Born in Brooklyn, Cohen attended Yeshiva Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin, where he became a talmid of the late Rav Yitzchak Hutner,  and forged ties with a roster of Torah giants. His position as rav of Congregation Gvul Yaavetz in Brooklyn is the springboard from which he was launched to prominence as the eminence grise of contemporary American poskim. He has been involved with the Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services, Nefesh International, Hatzolah of Flatbush, Central Hatzolah, and Camp Munk, as well as serving as dean of the Long Island Commission of Rabbis.

Cohen has championed the cause of agunos, and has been an outspoken defender of victims of abuse.  His abiding ahavas Yisroel and understanding of the pain of mental illness have made him the address for those seeking nuanced and authoritative piskei halacha in this area.  He is the author of over 70 sefarim on Gemara, Tefila, Nach, and Machshava.

Information and to register to attend virtually, may be obtained at www.touro.edu/ravcohen.