After much planning and consultation, Chayim Aruchim’s Machon Refuah V’Halacha has created a 24-hour hotline (718-301-9800), which became fully operational earlier this month. This bold and revolutionary service allows patients or families to discuss medical issues and shailos with a knowledgeable expert, and to help families make important decisions.

This is an extremely important development for the Orthodox community. Chayim Aruchim, a service of Agudath Israel of America, has become recognized worldwide for ensuring that healthcare systems provide Torah-true Jews with medical services as required by halachah.

Chayim Aruchim’s Machon Refuah V’Halachah has grown in other ways as well. More experts in the area of medical matters and refuah have been added so they can help with the weighty task of responding to difficult and sensitive issues. Calls come in daily about medical and life-threatening issues. These issues are vital and must be attended to immediately, with clarity and sensitivity.

With the expansion of the hotline, it will now be possible for patients and their families to discuss the difficult questions and decisions involved in patient care, 24 hours a day, and to make sure that the questions and issues are clarified so that they can then discuss them with the rabbanim who will provide guidance and p’sak. Members of the Machon are prepared to talk with physicians and other hospital staff, as well as a hospital’s legal department, to understand the issues, provide guidance, and relay any questions to the rabbanim, or the rav that the patient chooses.

As we all know, when someone is sick, there are often very difficult questions that arise and decisions that need to be made. Patients and their families need help and advice from a rav who understands the medical issues, can pasken the shailos, and provide much-needed chizuk to the choleh and family.

It is absolutely vital that a choleh and family not be dragged into the secular values that are prevalent in today’s society, which have at times unfortunately been creeping into our own community as well, whereby the concept of the kedushah of the life of a Yid has becomes watered down and the preciousness of every moment of a Yid’s life is no longer fully appreciated.

It has already occurred in our community, whether we were aware of it or not, that under the pressure of the secular medical system, things were unfortunately done to shorten life. Unfortunately, community members have signed, without fully understanding, medical directives, DNRs, and DNIs that look innocent but can cause much harm to the patient and family.

The goal of Chayim Aruchim is to provide families with real assistance, as well as advice and chizuk in various ways. The Machon’s new, expanded hotline will help patients and families deal with healthcare systems that may show reluctance in helping the choleh according to halachah. The Machon members are trained and prepared to address members of the hospital staff, and will seek legal advice if needed to ensure that all care is dispensed according to Torah and halachah.

This is especially true for critically ill patients when the physician says that since there is no cure or meaningful treatment, all that remains is to manage the patient’s pain as best as possible. At that point, the patient or the family should seek advice and guidance, possibly a second opinion, in order to determine if anything curative remains to be done. Sometimes further research has proved fruitful, baruch Hashem, and physicians and programs have been found that could still help.

The Machon’s members were trained and have experience in medical matters and are prepared to serve the community in helping families through exceptionally difficult times, guiding them as to how to deal with the very sensitive issues of pikuach nefesh. To supplement their understanding of medical halachah, Machon members had dozens of sessions with world-class physicians representing many medical fields. In addition to their classroom training, members also visited various medical facilities in the New York and New Jersey areas. As an indication of the teamwork that has developed, the physicians have graciously offered to make themselves available in the event that any cases arise that they can be of help with.

These Machon members, having received such invaluable training, are under the direction of the extremely knowledgeable and respected posek Rav Hershel Ausch, Av Beis Din of Volkin and the Yoshev Rosh of the Bais Horaah of Karlsburg, who is the posek of the Machon. Rav Ausch has given shiurim and practical guidance to the Machon members regarding various halachos that are relevant to critically ill patients.

May the Machon continue to be matzliach in helping protect kedushas Yisrael, and may everyone be gezunt and shtark (strong and well). v


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