Prof. A. B. Hyman

Presentation of the Award for Medicine & Halacha

To Rabbi Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg

Mr. Chairman, Prof. Halevy, Mr. Kahn,

Before I undertake the pleasant task of presenting the first Award for Distinction in Halacha and Medicine, it is right for me that I specifically thank a number of persons with whom I have been associated in preparing this conference.

To you, Mr. Talansky, whose initiative and constant help and enthusiasm made our meeting possible.

To Prof. Jonathan Halevy, whose wisdom, tact and understanding overcame so many impediments and rendered this conference operative.

To Mr. Chaim Kahn, for his capacity to coordinate apparently conflicting opinions and attitudes into one cohesive and comprehensive plan.

And to all members of the faculty, who gave of their time and scholarship for the benefit of an appreciative and knowledgeable audience.

And now to the presentation of the award, and if I may, I would prefer that you hear my paraphrased version of the Hebrew, rather than a literal, but inaccurate translation of what I have to say.

I have come across an interesting dictum for which I could not find the source:  It is not customary among us to praise the great.  However, seeing that I am but the spokesman on behalf of the Awards Committee, I may be allowed to tell you something about the recipient of the Award for Halacha and Medicine and his accomplishments.

There are three qualities required in order to arrive at an acceptable halachic decision:

 1)   extensive knowledge of all branches of halacha;

 2)   understanding and wisdom, correctly to utilize this knowledge;

 3) awareness of the presence of a Supreme Judge, who shows no favoritism and accepts no bribes.  Such a talmid chacham has a finely tuned ear for the music of halacha, to detect a false note or a tiny flaw.

Now, there are two unworthy types of halachic scholars: those who do not possess all three qualifications and yet consider themselves fit to rule on halacha, and those who do indeed qualify in every way, but refrain from rendering halachic decisions.

In the recipient of the award, we find the happy combination of the three qualities needed for the application for halacha to the ever increasing demands of medicine. He has vast halachic knowledge, he has the wisdom, understanding and modesty needed in order correctly to use this knowledge and apply it in practice.

Finally, he personifies halachic integrity in his rulings, not to prove that black is white or white is black.  This he has shown over more than four decades
in teaching,
and in over twenty volumes of responsa, which include many hundreds relating to medicine.

At the end of the Hebrew presentation I would ask you to rise in honor of Rabbi Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg, the recipient of our award.