In an unusual move, the four rabbis – Yaakov Ariel, Haim Drukman, Dov Lior and Aharon Lichtenstein, representing different factions within the religious public – sent a joint letter to the protest's leaders, voicing their support and expressing their hope that the work dispute would end soon.
The letter, initiated by the Tzohar organization, was submitted Tuesday evening to the protest's organizers during a meeting of residents from all over the country at the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva.
Doctors rally in Jerusalem (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"Saving a life overrides the entire Torah," the rabbis wrote. "The residents' claim against irregular working ours is justified both from a moral and halachic point of view.
"The doctors' duty is to save lives and help every patient, and lack of sleep on the doctors' part puts the patients' lives in risk… The grim reality does not allow Israel's doctors to fulfill their mission. We call on the prime minister and finance minister to change the working patterns of doctors in Israel."
Tzohar Director Rabbi David Stav said Tuesday ahead of his meeting with the doctors, "Rabbis don't usually intervene in labor disputes, but when it turns out that some of the controversial issues may place patients in danger and border with life-saving, the rabbis understand that the Torah has something to say about it too."
He clarified that the letter refers to residents' shift hours, but is relevant to any matter which may risk the lives of patients.
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