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    Living & dying – B’har

    On the verse, “Your brother shall live with you” (Lev. 25:26), the sages (Ber. 61b) speak about two men caught in the desert with only enough water for one.

    Who should drink the water? If he who holds it drinks, he seems selfish; if he gives it to his friend, he himself will probably die.

    Rabbi Akiva says, “Your life takes precedence: the verse says, ‘Your brother shall live with you‘”. To sacrifice your live for another is a fine act of brotherly love but not a command.

    The same page of the Talmud relates Rabbi Akiva’s martyrdom. Seeming to have a smile on his face even as he died, he said, “At last I can carry out the command to love God b’chol naf’sh’cha – ‘with all your soul’ (Deut. 6:5) – even if I have to give up my soul!”

    The first story says: do not court death; the second, if you must die, make it a Kiddush HaShem, for God’s sake.

    Politically correct terminology would say, die with dignity. But that phrase has been hijacked by the proponents of euthanasia. Because of the way they distort the English language, they imply that people who die a natural death are in some way not dying with dignity.

    Another phrase that has been hijacked is “love child”. Icons who live in the glossy magazines have “love children” with people they’re not married to: when ordinary people who actually are married have a baby, that apparently isn’t a love child.

    Hebrew has a term, g’nevat da’at – “stealing someone’s mind”. That’s what this twisting of language is, stealing people’s minds.

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