Payment for Organ Donation in Jewish Law

Fred Rosner, Edward Reichman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Payment for organ donation in Jewish Law is the essence of this article. In Judaism, a physician's license to heal the sick is considered divinely given. The Talmud drives this from the Biblical phrase, "And he shall surely heal." In fact, according to Maimonides, a physician is obligated to heal the sick, induce remission of illness, and prolong life. Human organ transplantation began nearly half a century ago. Since then, organ donations have been insufficient to meet the needs of patients with diseased organs. This article traces the Halakhic and Talmudic precedents for selling body parts. There is Talmudic precedent for selling body parts, but not organs, and not in a medical or therapeutic context. This article further explains Jewish law forbids receiving financial compensation for fulfilling a meritorious act. Clauses pertaining to organ donation such as obligations to save a life, ownership rights over one's body form the concluding part of this article.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Judaism and Economics
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199940462
ISBN (Print)9780195398625
StatePublished - Dec 7 2010


  • Jewish law
  • Judaism
  • Organ transplantation
  • Talmud

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Economics, Econometrics and Finance


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