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In Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 157:1, the Ramma quotes a Beis Yoseif saying that shaas hashmad is only when the gizeira (decree) is specifically against Jews. The Shach there (#6) clarifies that if the gizeira is against the entire medina (country or jurisdiction), even though Jews are included, it is not called shaas hashmad.


There's a Rabbi Rakeffet mp3 on this on yutorah.org (sorry no, I can't tell you which one). It's widely circulated that the Rambam wrote that anyone killed simply because they were Jewish is considered to have died "al kiddush Hashem." However ... we don't seem to actually have such a written source in the Rambam. Post-Holocaust, the subject came up a ...


The Rambam is of the opposite opinion. Although he brings the concept of such a person not having a portion in the world to come, he mentions nothing about it being a fourth exception to יהרג ואל יעבור - requiring martyrdom (see the Derech HaTeshuva to the Rambam Teshuva 3:14 who notes that Tosfos and Rabbeinu Yona's opinion is amazing as it is "clearly" not ...


See Tosafos there (Pesachim 25a) which says that it's not referring to the medical aspects of the wood, buyt to its supernatural affects, which possibly brings one closer to idol worship.: חוץ מעצי אשירה. נראה לר''י דמיירי כגון שאין יכול להתרפא משאר עצים אלא בזה כגון על ידי שדים או שום דבר אחר משום דאתי למיטעי בתר ע''ז Similarly in Avoda Zara 27b ...

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