In יבמות ס״ה,ב׳ it brings the story of when Hashem told שמואל הנביא to go and anoint דויד, and שמואל asked Hashem what he should do in order not to arouse Shaul’s suspicion, thereby endangering his life, and Hashem told him to take a calf with him, so he will be able to make as if he is just going to offer a sacrifice.

The Gemara says, that we learn from here, that it is a Mitzvah to change the truth for the sake of peace!

Now my question is: why did Shmuel need this Halacha in order for him to be allowed to lie, in order to save his life - doesn’t saving one’s life override all prohibitions?

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    The question was not if he needed permission to save his own life but whether or not he needed to be choshesh for Shaul since perhaps he should just have had bitachon in Hashem. Hashem told him to take the calf because heichah de'shechiach he'zeikah sha'ani, so in effect Hashem was moreh to Shmuel that this was indeed a case where it was shechiach he'zeikah.
    – The GRAPKE
    Mar 23 at 5:40
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    @THE GRAPKE was alluding to the Gemara Pesachim 8b Mar 23 at 21:15
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    Perhaps, the proof is from the fact that Hashem told him to lie instead of finding a different solution. If it wouldn’t be a recommended thing, Hashem could have easily found other ways to save him.
    – Chatzkel
    May 7 at 16:26
  • @Chatzkel that's an excellent insight into how we know this is coming to teach that this is a case of lying for the sake of shalom, rather than for the sake of pikuach nefesh. Is that your answer then, that the question is flawed and is not about that? Thanks for your answer today on my question :)
    – Rabbi Kaii
    May 7 at 17:32
  • "doesn't saving one's life override all prohibitions?" Does anyone have a source for this thought?
    – 1Sam1223
    May 8 at 4:22

2 Answers 2


Reb Shalom, this is a great question.

Seemingly, Shmuel did not "need" this halacha to permit him from "lying". Being told directly from god to do something does not necessarily warrant a reason or a heter from halacha.

The gemara is coming after the fact and learning a lesson from the story, which is, that in some situations there might be room to permit lying if it will bring peace.

(This is my own answer - i don't have any sources to cite)


Firstly, the gemara you bring explains that the case of Shmuel (in contrast to the case of Joseph/brothers, and of Hashem/Avraham/Sarah) was brought to show that lying for the sake of shalom is a mitzva, which is R' Natan's chiddush here.

It also demonstrates something else, which is that "saying true words" isn't always enough, and can still count as a lie. Shmuel genuinely did bring a korban, so therefore he wasn't lying, right?! Wrong! That is lying, because his true intention was to anoint David (Meiri).

As for your exact question- what's the chiddush about lying for the sake of saving one's life, R Yaakov Ettlinger explains that as Hashem's messenger, Shmuel was guaranteed to suffer no harm. While the gemara in Pesachim 8b brings the opinion that the guarantee of no harm coming to a shaliach mitzva does not apply to dangerous scenarios, R' Ettlinger claims that this opinion in our gemara in Yevamot represents a different one to that in Pesachim, that has a wider scope and includes even dangerous scenarios.

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