Genesis 9:4. To eat a limb torn from a live animal is unspeakably cruel.

There are numerous diagnosis tools for any medical condition, all partially specific and reliable. Most of the time several tests are used and it is their consistency of results which help to approach a final diagnosis. In some areas of medicine, cancers for example, doctors focus heavily -close to blackmailing- on biopsies of living tissues of the body -in ambulatory, pre-op care- as a gate opener to treatment, surgery and other. I am not thinking of biopsies carried out during an operation on the sick organ being removed. Would I be justified on moral ground (conscience objection) based on Torah, to reject any detachment of a piece of limb like a biopsy, and claim my right to diagnosis and treatment, and even pushing carers to search for more relevant non-invasive tools of disease management indirectly ?
Anybody has a halachic knowledge of this situation, and anybody has the practical experience of doing that ?

  • Why would you think Bereishis 9:4 has to do with biopsies? It has to do with eating the flesh. Not completely regarding your question, but see Nishmat Avraham, vol. 4, Yoreh De’ah 349:2, quoted here: medethics.org.il/article/rj031030a
    – Shmuel
    Jul 21, 2022 at 20:38
  • It's a mitzvah to make it Basar Min Hachay. There is a Mishna in which they excised a wart using a battle to avoid tumea
    – kouty
    Jul 21, 2022 at 21:04
  • Gen. 9:4 concerns diet, nothing to do with biopsies. Also, I do not understand the "blackmail" issue you raise. Just about every Western country by law recognizes a right to refuse treatment (even if the individual is unconscious and they have previously issued directives). There is a prohibition of חובל בעצמו (physically destructing ones body), this of course is irrelevant where the purpose is for רפואה (i.e. medical/therapeutic). I suppose if one knowingly submits their body to an unethical doctor that is performing unnecessary biopsies, then this issue could arise. Jul 21, 2022 at 21:22
  • @ Deuteronomy. Thank you. The outcome of this biopsy is 40 % false positives and 30 % false negatives. But it is considered the gold standard. And if one does not accept to have it, there is no alternative and no treatment offered. You get sidelined. Given the well known vested interests running high within US medicine and surgery, isn't it abusive to corner a patient on such a shabby ground and that's why I call this abuse a blackmail.
    – Pioni5777
    Jul 24, 2022 at 16:11

1 Answer 1


Genesis 9:4 called "Eiver min Hachai" is only prohibited for eating, but I understand that one can enjoy benefit from this limb see: תלמוד בבלי, מסכת פסחים, דף כ"ב, עמוד ב.

The idea of the law according to the Sefer HaChinuch is that it is too cruel to remove a limb from a live animal and eat it. Though I suppose removing a limb for another purpose while the animal is alive might similarly be cruel it is not technically prohibited under this Mitzvah as far as I understand.

There is a prohibition to not cause distress to an animal (צר בעלי חיים). Presumably this would apply to humans. If they are doing it for your medical care that would require a lot more thought, since they are trying to help. Although they should be determining a balance of the least painful and most effective procedure. Perhaps you can try another question, about medical ethics in Judaism about how to balance pain and damages with whether they are necessary for treatment?

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .