Is donating blood a mitzvah?

Are there contemporary sources?

I am looking for an answer from a posek, rav, etc.


3 Answers 3


HaRav Eliezer Waldenberg zt"l has a famous piece in his Tzitz Eliezer (vol 16, siman 23). He notes that it is definitely a mitzvah but one is not obligated (and would in fact be forbidden, if it would cause a decline in health of the donor).

He notes:

מי שחפץ ברצון עצמו לתרום מדמו ומרגיש שלא יוזק מזה, מדת חסידות יש בזה, ואשרי חלקו מי שיוכל לעמוד בזה

Someone who desires to donate his own blood and feels that he will not be harmed by it, there is an act of piety in this, and fortunate is the portion of one who is able to withstand this.


I just noted that Rabbi Avigdor Miller was asked this question also. In Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen's Rabbi Avigdor Miller Speaks, Vol. 1, Mesorah Publications Ltd., in the questions section on the back p.240 it writes:

How great a mitzvah is donating blood to religious Jews in need?

Giving blood is the greatest form of bikur cholim that there is. People are under the impression that one fulfills the mitzvah of bikur cholim only by visiting the sick. This is incorrect! If when visiting them, you tend to their needs and provide for them, then you have performed an even greater level of bikur cholim. Can anyone imagine a greater way to provide for an ill person who needs it than by donating blood? There's no question, it's certainly a very great mitzvah.

  • 2
    Where does he write it is a mitzvah? Does he not write explicitly it is "midat hasidut", i.e., not a mitzvah stricto sensu? Or maybe he writes it elsewhere?
    – mbloch
    Commented May 12, 2021 at 16:56
  • 2
    He quotes a Yaavetz later where he says that even if it causes a bizayon to one's body we don't stop a person from a saving his friend from danger "ורק רשות ומצוה היא"
    – Dov
    Commented May 12, 2021 at 17:17

R Abraham S. Abraham, the author of the Nishmat Avraham compendium of medical halacha, writes (vol 2, p. 346)

Rav [Shlomo Zalman] Auerbach wrote to me that he also permits donating blood to the blood bank in Israel, for the donor performs a mitzvah of saving a Jewish life, even if does so only for the money.

See also this detailed analysis by R Aryeh Lebowitz which concludes similarly.

  • 1
    What if they live outside Israel, where a blood donation would likely go towards saving the life of a non-Jew?
    – nick012000
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 0:27
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    That is the question all poskim ask indeed. R Lebowitz quotes R Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe Orach Chaim V:25) who "concludes by emphasizing that there is no need to prove from earlier sources that one may violate biblical prohibitions to save gentile lives because it is “abundantly obvious”. It would seem that similar considerations may exist with respect to donating blood to save non-Jewish lives."
    – mbloch
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 3:29
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    @mbloch For practical purposes that is what Rabbi Feinstein says about violating Shabbat to save a gentile life, but he also says explicitly (Choshen Mishpat 1:103; I got the reference from Rabbi Leibowitz's article) that donating blood preemptively is not saving a life. Since most blood donations are preemptive, his position on saving a life may be inapplicable to this case
    – b a
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 11:38

See Rav Shmuel Halevi Wosner(Vozner) in his Shevet Halevi who says definitively that it is a mitzvah.

See as well Rav Avraham Abraham in his Nishmas Avraham(Vol. 3(Even Haezer), Siman 80, Os 1) who writes that it is a mitzvah to give bone marrow for a bone marrow transplant, he quotes his response with Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach who agrees. I assume the same would apply to blood donations which is a significantly less invasive procedure.

The article by Rav Aryeh Levbowitz that Dov quoted above is very helpful.


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