0

This recent article reports about a woman thrown off a flight because she requested that no nuts be served to anybody on the plane, because her severe allergy even to smelling nuts could cause her to have a potentially fatal anaphylactic reaction. Another airline later granted her wishes.

What does halacha say about inconveniencing the many to accommodate the health sensitivities of the few?

9
  • Was she thrown off or she chose to leave given the risks involved?
    – Double AA
    Commented Feb 9, 2022 at 17:32
  • 1
    Thrown off -- as stated in the article. Commented Feb 9, 2022 at 17:42
  • 2
    You're missing the point. What's the difference? No one threw anyone off for making a food request. They refused her request to avoid nuts. She chose to leave. They may have been willing to let her stay and have nuts.
    – Double AA
    Commented Feb 9, 2022 at 17:56
  • @DoubleAA -- What is your point? It says clearly: "But sensing a problem, the couple were removed from the flight (the crew said they were uncomfortable with the couple). " Commented Feb 9, 2022 at 18:07
  • 1
    The general question I am asking has nothing to do with the details of this particular case. Commented Feb 9, 2022 at 19:01

1 Answer 1

1

This is not really about "halacha about inconveniencing the many...", however, maybe this is a good starting point?

The general principle might be that one is not allowed to put one person's life for that of another, as stated in the Mishnah (Oholot 7:6)

one may not set aside one person's life for that of another.

Even the Rambam (Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Yesodei haTorah, 5:5) tells us that if a group would tell you "Give us one of you to defile. If not, we will defile all of you, they should allow themselves all to be defiled rather than give over a single Jewish soul".

Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin from Chabad.org seems to cites the Tzitz Eliezer but unfortunately, I did not find what I was looking for, might add that in later. Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin explains:

Rabbi Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg (Jerusalem, 1915–2006) in his responsum Tzitz Eliezer discusses the trolley problem, and based on the above halachah, writes that one cannot actively cause a person to die even if it will save many more. As earlier commentaries explain, the Talmud’s statement that one should let himself be killed rather than kill another, “for why do you think that your blood is redder?” is essentially saying that we cannot fathom the infinite value of a life. Thus, we must refrain from taking action that implies we know how to evaluate one life over another or even many. All we can do is leave it to heaven and follow the Talmudic dictum shev ve’al ta’aseh (“sit and do nothing”), taking a passive tack, for any active killing is forbidden

However, there seems to be an exception to this principle. This can be found in Sefer 2 Shmuel, perek 20:21:

Just hand him alone over to us, and I will withdraw from the city.”

However, this is further discussed in the work "Contemporary Halakhic Problems, Vol VI, Chapter 2 Sacrificing the Few to Save the Many 10"

Resh Lakish infers that acquiescence with a demand of such nature can be sanctioned only in instances in which the victim's life is lawfully forfeit, as was the case with regard to Sheba the son of Bichri who is described as being guilty of lèse majesté. However, in instances in which the designated victim is guiltless, all must suffer death rather than become accomplices to murder. R. Yoḥanan maintains that the question of guilt is irrelevant; rather, the crucial factor is the singling out of a specific individual by the oppressor. Members of a group have no right to select one of their number and deliver him to death in order to save their own lives. Since the life of each individual is of inestimable value there is no basis for preferring one life over another. However, once a specific person has been marked for death in any event, either alone if surrendered by his companions or together with the entire group if they refuse to comply, those who deliver him are not to be regarded as accessories. Rambam's ruling is in accordance with the opinion of Resh Lakish. Both opinions are cited by Rema, Shulḥan Arukh, Yoreh De'ah 157:1.

Rabbi J. David Bleich explains here that it is not allowed to, if you are a member of a group, to select one of you groupmembers and deliver him to death, in order to save your own life, or the lives of the other people in your group:

Members of a group have no right to select one of their number and deliver him to death in order to save their own lives. Since the life of each individual is of inestimable value there is no basis for preferring one life over another.

But what if a person wants to sacrifice his own life? On the story of Luleyanus and Pappas found in the Gemara (Taanit 18b), The Tzitz Eliezer (see source mentioned earlier) seems to explain that:

a person on his own may be permitted to volunteer and sacrifice his life

And (Contemporary Halakhic Problems, Vol VI):

However, once a specific person has been marked for death in any event, either alone if surrendered by his companions or together with the entire group if they refuse to comply, those who deliver him are not to be regarded as accessories.

The Yerushalmi (Terumot 8:4) states:

If they designated one, like Sheba ben Bikhri, they should hand him over so as not to be killed.”

In your case it says "the presence of nuts in business and first class poses the risk of anaphylaxis if allergens travel airborne"- does this mean, according to the principles mentioned above, that this person needs to be removed from the flight? I highly doubt it. There is a wonderful article called "The Trolley Problem: Just Got Digital Ethical Dilemmas in Programming Autonomous Vehicles" written by Rabbi Mois Navon where, on page 14 it says:

The Tzitz Eliezer begins by quoting the Marauders Case to show that one cannot save the many at the expense of the individual.

Were the other passengers in danger because of the (severe) allergy of this person? I highly doubt it.

Sources:

The Trolley Problem, Chabad.org

The Trolley Problem Just Got Digital

2
  • 1
    Thank you. But your answer implies the certainty of death. In that case, it all makes sense. In my question there is only the risk of death. In that case the course of action is not clear. Commented Feb 9, 2022 at 20:42
  • No problem. Indeed, that was also my thought. However, this was the closest I got on sources that discusses this problem.
    – Shmuel
    Commented Feb 10, 2022 at 12:58

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .