Bend the Arc: Health Care Decision Reflects Jewish Values

— by Daniele Lehrer

Bend the Arc’s Alan van Capelle explained in JTA that the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act reflects the Jewish values that inspired so many people in our community to support the bill.

Van Capelle wrote:

Jewish law and tradition have much to say about taking an active role in guarding one’s health-and the health of our fellow man. Health and life are bedrock Jewish values, to the extent that saving someone (pikuach nefesh) supersedes even the sanctity of the Sabbath. The Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) notes, ‘If one has medicine that a sick person needs, it is forbidden to charge more than the appropriate price.’ This statement of Jewish law now becomes the spirit of America’s national health policy, and I could not be more proud.

The Jewish community has long supported a national health-care policy that includes everyone, and traditionally has viewed health care as a communal responsibility. This central Jewish tenet is consistent with a society’s prioritizing of health and safety of everyone in its midst and is demonstrated by the commitment that American Jews have made to supporting hospitals and health services through our communal institutions.