If one steps on a cockroach on Shabbos and the cockroach is then mutilated to the point that it will surely die, is one then allowed to kill it?

Is it allowed to kill the cockroach because essentially it is now a living corpse?

  • Are you asking if the melacha of shechitah was already accomplished by mutilating it, such that you can't perform "shechitah" a second time on the same creature? Meaning if you fatally shoot an animal can you cut off its head?
    – robev
    Commented Jun 7, 2021 at 8:10
  • @robev No, that is not what I had in mind when I asked the question.
    – Nosson
    Commented Jun 7, 2021 at 8:48
  • Probably not. he.wikisource.org/wiki/… ובן שמנה המונח בחלון אתיא אמיה דריא ליה יבשבת דתניא כבן שמנה הרי הוא כאבן ואסור לטלטלו בשבת אבל אמו שוחה עליו ומניקתו מפני הסכנה So the insect should not be better than a premature baby.
    – The GRAPKE
    Commented Jun 7, 2021 at 8:55
  • So what did you have in mind? Can you make your intent clearer?
    – robev
    Commented Jun 7, 2021 at 9:13
  • 1
    – Joel K
    Commented Jun 7, 2021 at 10:45

1 Answer 1


R Dovid Ribiat answers your question in his book The 39 melochos (vol 3, p. 888)

It is questionable wether killing a mortally ill or wounded animal is the melocho m'deoraisa of Schochait. In any case, doing so is not actually permitted. "Mercy killing" situations are common examples of this [question].

Example: One who notices a badly wounded bird or similar creature and perceives that it is suffering great pain, may not kill it on Shabbos to put it out of its misery. However he may apprise a non-Jew of the problem and allow the non-Jew to kill the animal.

In the footnotes, he brings various relevant sources, e.g., Minchat Chinuch 32:1, Sanhedrin 78a, MT Rotzeach uShmirat Nefesh 2:7-8.

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