What does the Torah have to say about end-of-life care? Its most striking story on this topic appears in the last four chapters of Genesis, which describe the hospice death of the Jewish patriarch Jacob. After Jacob became ill, he summoned his children and grandchildren, and requested burial in the Caves of Machpeleh, alongside his parents (Isaac and Rebecca) and his grandparents (Abraham and Sarah). He gave blessings to his sons, and “when Jacob finished instructing his sons, he drew his feet onto the bed; he expired and was gathered to his people” (Gen. 49:33). He suffered no invasive medical interventions, he was surrounded by his family and was able to bless them, and he died a peaceful death.

This model of a peaceful end-of-life process has been lost in the contemporary world of modern health care, as shown by Atul Gawande in his...

You do not currently have access to this content.