Repentance, Forgiveness, and the Afterlife Through the Lens of Blood Transfusions
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Undergraduate honors thesis / YU only
Jehovah's Witnesses are prohibited from allowing blood that has left the body to be transfused. The scriptural basis for the Jehovah's Witnesses’ prohibition against the use of blood transfusions is primarily located in three interrelated passages in the Bible: Genesis 9:4, Leviticus 17: 10-14, and Acts 15:28-29. A few questions came to mind once I learned about this strict prohibition. What happens to them if they do in fact accept the transfusion? Are they excommunicated? Can they hide their transgression? Is their soul considered worthy of entering heaven, and if not, can they repent? Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that salvation requires faith in God and association with God's chosen organization (their religion) and obedience to its rules. Salvation is based on God’s grace alone, and not on the actions of the believer1. If they believe that all sins are seen by God, is there a process of returning to the path of their God? Through my research of Jehovah's Witness literature, I have learned many interesting interpretations of sinning and repentance. There are articles that stress the importance of maintaining their holiness code and implore their practitioners to not accept blood. The articles that I found highlight the significance of saving the soul over the body, and that life on this earth is insignificant in comparison to the promise of the soul entering heaven.2 ¶ I will also discuss the Jewish approach to the topics I have touched on above. The Jewish laws of repentance are a fundamental aspect of the religion. Teshuva, repentance, has many details and steps. Jewish sages have debated whether or not Teshuva is a requirement for everyone to do, or an option available to all who choose to do so. Some are of the opinion that there is no formal requirement to repent, but should one choose to do so there is a systematic way to do it with guidelines provided by the Torah. Others believe that it is a set mitzvah that each and every Jew is required to do. This argument will be discussed later on in the paper. I will also discuss the fundamental Jewish principle of living through the laws, “v’chai bahem.” The importance of preserving life comes before any other mitzvah or commandment in the Torah. Pikuach Nefesh, saving a life, always takes priority. My goal is to research the concept of both repentance and living through God’s commandments comparatively. These two concepts have a significant impact on the way I live my life, and the value I place on the laws that I practice. The study of these topics has had an enlightening impact on my life as a practicing Jew, and it has shown me the different perspectives from other religions as well. (Introduction)
Epstein, A. (2022, April 28). Repentance, Forgiveness, and the Afterlife Through the Lens of Blood Transfusions. Undergraduate honors thesis, Yeshiva University.
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