Should the IDF be allowed to launch an offensive on Shabbat if it seems as if there will be no threat from any opposing forces until Shabbat is over?

  • 5
    Did they flip a coin? Presumably they chose the time of attack because there's some military advantage.
    – shmosel
    Commented Jan 30 at 0:13
  • Are you referring to a case of milhemeth miswa, or milhemeth reshuth? Are you referring to within the context of an existing war or within the context of initiating war? Please describe the type of scenario you are contemplating in greater detail. Commented Jan 30 at 0:19
  • 1
    You seem to be describing a case of pikuach nefesh, saving lives of soldiers, which takes precedence over Shabbat
    – mbloch
    Commented Jan 30 at 3:53
  • Welcome to MiYodeya and thanks for this first question Sarah. Since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Commented Jan 30 at 3:53
  • 1
    The question is relevant to a hypothetical case where it's totally and utterly clear that there is zero military advantage gained by striking early - I suggest this be edited into the question
    – AKA
    Commented Jan 30 at 5:35

1 Answer 1



The Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim section 329, paragraphs 6 and 7, clearly say that even if non Jews go to a border city of the Land of Yisroel "on matters of straw and hay", one must go out to them with weapons of war, because if the border is compromised, the entire land is.

I assume the question is referring to the current war with H@mas, started October 7th, or other similar incidents where Israel was attacked first. If the question is more general than that, let me know.

In the case of the October 7th attacks, a border city was clearly compromised, not only on matters of "straw and hay", but obviously much worse.

The law is beyond clear:

Paragraph 6 - Regarding non-Jews who besiege Jewish cities: if they come for money, we do not desecrate the Shabbat [to protect ourselves], but if they came to kill or come with no presented reason, we go out with weapons and desecrate the Shabbat. In a city that is near the border, even if they just come for straw or hay, we desecrate the Shabbat. Rem"a: Even if they haven't come but they want to come (Or Zarua).

סעיף ו - כותים שצרו על עירות ישראל, אם באו על עסקי ממון אין מחללין עליהם את השבת, באו על עסקי נפשות ואפלו סתם, יוצאים עליהם בכלי זין ומחללין עליהם את השבת. ובעיר הסמוכה לספר, אפלו לא באו אלא על עסקי תבן וקש מחללין עליהם את השבת. הגה: ואפלו לא באו עדין אלא רוצים לבא (אור זרוע)

Paragraph 7 - There is one who says that in our times, even if they come for money, we desecrate the Shabbat, because if the non-Jew does not allow them to plunder his money, it will become deadly. (In any event, everything is according to the situation(Piskei Mahara'i Chapter 156).)

סעיף ז - יש מי שאומר שבזמן הזה אפלו באו על עסקי ממון מחללין, שאם לא יניחנו ישראל לשלל ולבוז ממונו יהרגנו והוי עסקי נפשות (ומכל מקום הכל לפי הענין (פסקי מהרא"י סימן קנ"ו))

Now in regards to a preemptive strike where it's "assumed" that there will be danger only "after" shabbos, I can't find a reason not to label this as a clear case of a rodef, where the Torah obligates one to kill one who is trying to kill oneself or another person

(besides for goyal hadam and capital punishment),

And the Torah makes no distinction if the rodef plans to kill one "right after" Shabbat, chos vishalom, or during.

The laws of a rodef are in Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 425:1

הרודף אחר חבירו להרגו והזהירוהו והרי הוא רודף אחריו אפי' היה הרודף קטן הרי כל ישראל מצויים להצילו באבר מאברי הרודף ואם אינם יכולים לכוין ולא להצילו אלא א"כ יהרגו לרודף הרי אלו הורגים אותו אע"פ שעדיין לא הרג:

הגה: (טור ס"ז) הבא במחתרת לגנוב ג"כ דינו כרודף ואם ידוע שלא בא רק על עסק ממון ואף אם יעמוד בעל הממון נגדו לא יהרגהו אסור להרגו ועיין בדברי הטור בסי' זה מי שמסכן רבים כגון שעוסק בזיופים במקום שהמלכיות מקפידות דינו כרודף ומותר למסרו למלכות (נימוקי מהר"ם מריזבורק) כמו שנתבאר לעיל סימן שפ"ח סי"ב

One who pursues their fellow to kill them, and warns them [to stop], yet continues to pursue them, even if the pursuer is a minor, all Israelites are commanded to save the pursued, limb by limb if necessary.

If they cannot save them otherwise, then they are allowed

to kill the pursuer, even if the pursued has not been killed yet.Note: One who comes secretly to steal is also judged as a pursuer. However, if it is known that their intent was solely related to financial matters, and even if the owner of the property stands against them, it is prohibited to kill them. Refer to the Tur's commentary on this matter in section 7.

This applies to situations where someone endangers many people, such as engaging in fraud in a place where the authorities take such matters seriously; in such cases, it may be permissible to hand them over to the authorities, as explained earlier in section 48, paragraph 12

  • Where is there an indication that one can desecrate Shabbos to kill a rodef where the desecration of Shabbos is optional, as per the question?
    – AKA
    Commented Jan 30 at 19:32
  • @AKA if one is in the process of actively planning to invade the land, that is a rodef. It's optional in the same way any case of a rodef is optional - not at all Commented Jan 30 at 19:57
  • Huh? The question was if the strike can be done after Shabbos with equal results, must you then delay?
    – AKA
    Commented Jan 31 at 5:23
  • @aka there's no equal results if one is in an active state of planning to kill someone chos vishalom. Every second counts Commented Jan 31 at 13:08
  • Maybe, but the question assumed such a case
    – AKA
    Commented Jan 31 at 16:27

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