While the Torah forbids one to place himself into a situation of danger, some degree of slightly risky behavior is allowable under the concept of shomer pesaim Hashem. Are the parameters of this concept based on some objective quantifiable degree of mortality or on generally accepted behavior among one's peers?

If it's the latter, would one look at the generally accepted behavior of his geographic or philosophical peers? For example, would a Haredi person, living in a Modern Orthodox community, evaluate generally accepted behaviors in his geographic or philosophical "location"?

I am looking for sourced answers on this please.

2 Answers 2


Below is a quote from R' Shlomo Zalman Aurebach, written in his responsa Minchas Shlomo (V2, Siman 37)

ולענין עיקר הדבר מה נקרא ספק פקו"נ ומה לא, ועד איפה הוא הגבול, גם אנכי בעניי הסתפקתי טובא בזה, אלא שמצד הסברא נלע"ד דכל שדרך רוב בני אדם לברוח מזה כבורח מפני הסכנה הרי"ז חשיב כספק פיקו"נ, וקרינן ביה בכה"ג וחי בהם ולא שימות בהם, אבל אם אין רוב בנ"א נבהלים ומפחדים מזה אי"ז חשיב סכנה וכו' אף אעפ"כ אין רגילין לעשותן בהילות ובזריזות ולפיכך אף אם באמת יש בזה קצת סכנה הו"ל כמ"ש חז"ל והאידנא שומר פתאים ה' וחלילה לחלל שבת עבור כך וכו'

According to R' Shlomo Zalman, it is depends on whether it is something that people generally don't shy away from because of the risk, but perform the activity disregarding the risks involved, although they still do so somewhat 'cautiously'.

See also Binyan Tzion Siman 137 (Responsa written by the author of Aruch L'ner), who differentiates between a present danger and a statistical risk. [I'm not sure if this is an accurate translation. See the tshuva and draw your own conclusions.]

  • How does this answer the second part of the question?
    – user17319
    Commented Jun 18, 2020 at 21:54

This is a complicated question and please don't take this answer as definitive but the situations where shomer pesaim Hashem is said are usually.

(1)something known to be not healthy (e.g. eating not healthy food like potato chips)or potentially risky (jet skiing)but largely done anyway

(2) a situation where the danger is only a statistical danger. It would be never be said in the case of a clear and present danger. No matter how many people do it.

Reason (1) is to some degree based on generally accepted behavior among one's peers.

  • What is the threshold between a "statistical danger" and "clear and present danger?" Does the risk of getting infected with a virus present a "statistical danger" or "clear and present danger?"
    – user17319
    Commented Jun 12, 2020 at 16:33
  • I don't know..It would probably depend on how high the risk of getting the virus is. If almost everyone doing something gets or spreads a dangerous virus then it is a "clear and present danger" If almost no one doing it gets it then it isn't . But I don't know
    – Schmerel
    Commented Jun 12, 2020 at 16:37

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