Cochlear Implants & Jewish Law

And the ears of the deaf shall Be unstopped.

Print this page Print this page

The medical community does not cherish sign language, the deaf experience, or any of the elements of Deaf culture. One might argue that the medical community is so focused on "fixing," "curing," and eliminating deafness, that they do not see the inherent divinity in deaf people, and the divine worth of the language and culture the deaf experience has created. This runs counter to the principle behind reciting m'shaneh habriyot and the lessons learned by doing so: namely, that there is a spectrum of human diversity on the planet and that all of this diversity reflects divinity

The responsibility of Jews with respect to the cochlear implant is only to make sure that individuals considering this medical procedure have access to all of the relevant information from the medical community, the Deaf community, and from within Jewish tradition. Once this is done, others should step back and respect the divine image within those individuals, and allow them the space and freedom to reach their own conclusions and make their own decisions.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Rabbi Darby J Leigh

Darby Jared Leigh, received smicha from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and was the first deaf man to be ordained as a rabbi by any of the major rabbinical seminaries in the U.S. He is currently the assistant rabbi at Bnai Keshet Reconstructionist Synagogue in Montclair, New Jersey.