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In Parshas Chayei Sarah (23:2), Rashi quotes Bereishis Rabbah (58:5) that the reason the Parsha of Sarah's death is juxtaposed to Akeidas Yitzchak is:

לספוד לשרה ולבכתה: ונסמכה מיתת שרה לעקידת יצחק, לפי שעל ידי בשורת העקידה שנזדמן בנה לשחיטה וכמעט שלא נשחט, פרחה נשמתה ממנה ומתה

Someone told Sarah about what was happening to Yitzchak, and her Neshama left her, and she died.

This got me thinking: even though it appears that at least some Meforshim say that it was the satan who told Sarah, it appears that mere words have the power of causing a persons death.

So my question is, if a person should deliver bad information to another, resulting in the latter person's death, would the former be responsible?

  • Assuming there were in fact two witnesses that warned that person, would a Jewish court be able to punish him?
  • Even if there weren't witnesses, would he still be liable? Would it matter whether he knew what its effect would be or not?
  • And finally, if the answer to the above two is no, would he still be liable in the world to come (דיני שמים)?
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Was it on purpose? An accident? Was the teller a human? an angel? a shoteh? Were there witnesses? warning? We have no details to work with here; how could anyone answer this? – Double AA Oct 25 '13 at 17:17
@DoubleAA Oops. I just realized that it appears at least many say it was the Satan that told Yitzchak... – yydl Oct 25 '13 at 17:22
Can scaring someone to death ever carry misas beis din? – Fred Oct 25 '13 at 18:18
is it ever a certainty that mere words will cause a person's death? if no, then you cannot warn him. – ray Oct 27 '13 at 7:14
@ray I'm not so sure that's true. There's no certainty a gunshot will cause death either... – yydl Oct 28 '13 at 3:24

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