I am an Italian ben Noach.

We have all seen that Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett went to Moscow on Shabbat to meet Putin.

I believe that, since this trip has been functional to find a solution to the tremendous war conflict in existence, Premier Bennett (an observant Jew, from what I have read), has not violated Shabbat.

What are the parameters of Piku'ach nefesh that would be used to apply to a decision to travel in order to discuss future actions?

  • 2
    We do not know whether he actually travelled on Shabbat nor the other details surrounding this case. He presumably has a rabbi to pasken for him. If you would like to ask a hypothetical question about a Jewish elected official being melacha shabbat for the purpose of saving lives you are welcome to do so Mar 6, 2022 at 11:22
  • Bennett's frumkeit was exaggerated for his campaign. We don't really know all the details of his observance.
    – ezra
    Mar 6, 2022 at 14:44
  • 3
    @ezra I know him personally (he was at my home) - there is no question he is observant. Maybe not machmir on all chumrot but shomer Shabbat, kashrut for sure. In this case, it was clearly pikuach nefesh. There were rulings in Israel before Shabbat that anyone who can save a refugee at the border should violate Shabbat to do so. Ad kama for "wholesale rescue" (e.g., exit corridors from cities under siege) that Benett was negotiating
    – mbloch
    Mar 6, 2022 at 17:32
  • @JoshK he did travel on Shabbat indeed and does have a Rav (and by the way, in Israel the Army, Police, Mossad, Shin Bet all have specialized rabbanim answering questions regarding operations). See also above comment
    – mbloch
    Mar 6, 2022 at 17:34
  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/13181/…
    – Isaac Moses
    Mar 18, 2022 at 20:03

1 Answer 1


Short answer: there is a great deal of leeway when we're dealing with this scale of life. (Shabbos 42a talks about "so the public won't be damaged.") When Bennett began his term a while ago, Rabbi Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer's podcast gave serious consideration to even taking a call from the White House in a non-war situation, if Washington feels it's important to speak now. On Rabbi Bechhofer's podcast he suggested that a rabbi who understands and values the realistic needs of statecraft be consulted.

The Mishna's examples of those who can and should break shabbos to travel include "saving people from an army." I realize the mishna was talking about stopping the army with your own helmet and sword, but if the timing is urgent there's any chance the same effect can be achieved through diplomatic means, the theoretical grounds seem very solid.

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