If there is a situation in which you aren't sure whether you are required to give up your life, do you give up your life or not?

The most simple example would be if someone doesn't know whether murder is yehareg v'al yaavor, but that situation would probably never come up. I am thinking more about the things that are debated, or if you are unsure about them. For example, the Chafetz Chaim (Nidchei Yisrael ch. 1) lists a few things that are yehareg v'al yaavor that you wouldn't have thought of (e.g. to say you are an idol worshiper even without worshiping idols). In such a case, do you take the stringent or lenient position?

1 Answer 1


There's a dispute among the rishonim whether one may commit suicide rather than fall into the hands of those who would forcibly convert him to Christianity. See http://web.archive.org/web/20080924092609/http://www.math.wustl.edu/~msh210/crusade/suicide.html for a couple of the sources on this, though there are more.

Those rishonim who allow (even laud) suicide in such a case, even though conversion is only a strong possibility, would presumably (a fortiori) allow the Jew to get himself killed in the face of a strong possibility of forced conversion (and laud, respectively). In other words, they would say that he may (laudably) yehareg v'al yaavor in some cases of safek. (As to whether he must, this answer does not address that issue.)

  • 1
    I don't know that they viewed it as a safek.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 8:09
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    @DoubleAA see the language of Tosafos: shey'reim pen.
    – msh210
    Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 8:44
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    Although there may be a difference between a case where there is a definite YVY with a safek if it will apply, and a case where he has a safek whether there is YVY at all. The former case may be included in the excepted law of YVY whereas the latter we may say misafek to remain at status quo and don't give up your life.
    – YDK
    Commented Jun 7, 2012 at 16:09
  • @msh210 Obviously they didn't know the future. I'm just saying maybe they were so absolutely convinced that they treated it like a vadai, which wouldn't be parallel to the OP's case.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 8, 2012 at 19:40

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