This question is with regards to the limits of Pikuach Nefesh in a life or death scenario.

Jewish law states that we have the ability to break the rules during situations where lives are in the balance. Eating unclean food to survive starvation is an example of this.

My question is do the rules still apply even when they don't apply?

The example I give is this:

A Jew is stranded in a situation where they have no food. There happens to be a living pig in the area and the Jew comes to the conclusion they'll have to kill and eat the pig to survive.

The pig is unclean by its nature so we already know the problem. That being said, would the Jew be benefitting the situation, even slightly, by attempting to ritually slaughter the pig?

At face value, this comes off as a straightforward situation. Shechita is done to ensure the meat is ritually pure for consumption. Because the pig is inherently impure, it is likely a worthless pursuit.

That being said, if the animal is killed using this method, even if the animal is inherently unclean, would the Jew be considered pious because even in a situation where they are breaking the rules to survive, they are doing so within the limits of the situation and not using it as an excuse to violate everything.

Essentially, the act of slaughtering the forbidden animal is being done as a means of living within the rules while still being forced to break the rules. An act of solidarity while acting in violation for survival.

1 Answer 1


Due to the precept of אין איסור חל על איסור, there is no point in insisting on proper shechita for a pig. A pig can never become tereifa, and its carcass has the same neveila status (with regards to tum'ah) whether it was slaughtered or not.

At most, if we accept that the rationale of shechita is that it's the most humane way to kill an animal, there might be an issue of tzaar baal chai to cause the pig as little pain as possible. However, IIRC, the blood vessels in a non-kosher animal's neck are situated slightly differently, so shechita might not even accomplish that.

[There is a well-known joke about the Jew who had to partake of pork for health reasons, and insisted it be slaughtered properly and the lungs checked. As luck would have it, there was a serious question, and the lung was brought to the town rov. He examined it carefully, then fell silent for a long moment. When pressed, he responded, "What can I say, that it's kosher? It's a pig! It's not kosher, and can never be kosher. The questioner may eat it, because of pikuach nefesh, regardless of the lung's status. The question, essentially, is moot." (I think the tale is attributed to the Brisker Rov, regarding a maskil that was reputed to have exceptional midos.)]

  • Are there sources which support your conclusion?
    – rosends
    Mar 7, 2019 at 2:11
  • @rosends I am not near any seforim at the moment, but I remember learning that shechita does nothing to make a pig's carcass less tamei. If I'm wrong about that, then I will retract the answer.
    – Menachem
    Mar 7, 2019 at 2:20
  • Right Meyla perek 4 Mishna 3 in Bartenura. There is no isur nevela in behema temea because ein isur chal all isur
    – kouty
    Mar 7, 2019 at 20:03
  • Please finish the answer.
    – kouty
    Mar 7, 2019 at 20:03
  • 1
    3 shitot in Meyla in Meyla daf 16 a. Rav: ein isur chal al isur, Levi: isur nevela chal al isur behema temea, Rav Asi two interpretations. But Halacha ein isur chal al isur.
    – kouty
    Mar 7, 2019 at 20:17

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