Rambam states that there is no Mitzva as great as Pidyon Shvuyim. (משנה תורה, הלכות מתנות עניים ח׳) He sets forth there that its greatness is based on the fact that the prisoner is in constant lack of basic necessities and is in constant danger of death. Yet, there are clear halachos regarding minimalizing distraction and fear in our troops during a war and forbidding certain people from fighting and certain actions from being taken (e.g see Devarim 20). Focus on and and active consideration for redeeming Jewish captives when battles need to be waged is an obvious distraction and can create hesitation and destroy morale of combatants, placing their lives in danger. Therefore, it would seem that normal consideration of precedence of Pidyon Shvuyim over other matters would not apply to decisions and considerations of warfare.

Are there any explicit sources that state that the normal halachos of Pidyon Shvuyim do not apply at the same level during or are secondary to warfare considerations?

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    David goes to war to redeem captives (Samuel 1:30)
    – Double AA
    Jan 30 at 20:11
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    @Double AA , Yes, but that is not Pidyon Shvuyim. That is a Hatzalas Shvuyim. The issue with Pidyon Shvuyim is that concessions such as ceasefires or "humanitarian" aid or terrorist prisoners in exchange for freedom of the Shvuyim are a danger to our soldiers and all Jews and interfere with the momentum of warfare.
    – Yahu
    Jan 30 at 22:34
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    Even with pidyon shevuim we find limitations if it costs too much, with a reason being "pressure on the community", all the more so if will cause significant danger to life (which needs to be judged carefully)
    – AKA
    Jan 31 at 5:53

1 Answer 1


The overriding consideration here is in the Mishnah: Captives are not redeemed for more than their value, because of Tikkun Olam (repair of the world). [Gittin 4:6] Their "value" used to be what they were worth in the slave market. Today, the Mishnah means that one must consider the impact on society as a whole, whether in warfare or not.

  • Do you have a source for that lack of differentiation between wartime and not? We went out to battle over the capture of one Jewish owned slave-woman who was captured in an attack on us. We did not negotiate and we decimated them, naming the place Charma.
    – Yahu
    Feb 20 at 19:10
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    As I mentioned, Gittin 4:6 does not differentiate between wartime and peacetime. Feb 20 at 20:15

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