I heard that the posuk "You shall not stand over the blood of your friend – I am Hashem" (Vayikra 19:16) is a לאו (negative commandment). Is that true?

לא תעמד על דם רעך אני יקוק

  • 2
    This is a case where avoiding a לאו requires action.
    – Fred
    Jul 22, 2014 at 19:58

1 Answer 1


It is a prohibition not to stand by as another Jew is in any kind of danger, be it physical or financial.

ALL of the Monei Hamitzvos include it. See Behag 93, Saadia Gaon 61, Rambam 297, Semag 165, Ramban 293, Chinuch 237, Semak 79, etc.

  • 1
    I've seen this extended to spiritual danger, too, though I don't recall a source offhand. (Though R' Elchanan Wasserman wrote a letter to the Tz'irei Yisrael youth group in 1939 indicating that Torah study provides protection from physical harm and therefore involves לא תעמוד).
    – Fred
    Jul 22, 2014 at 20:23
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    Not sure what you're referring to, though the Chafetz Chaim (Chomas Hadas 1:3) brings similar Mitzvos for spiritual dangers, including כִּי תִפְגַּע שׁוֹר אֹיִבְךָ, אוֹ חֲמֹרוֹ--תֹּעֶה: הָשֵׁב תְּשִׁיבֶנּוּ, לוֹ. and לֹא-תִרְאֶה אֶת-שׁוֹר אָחִיךָ אוֹ אֶת-שֵׂיוֹ, נִדָּחִים, וְהִתְעַלַּמְתָּ, מֵהֶם: הָשֵׁב תְּשִׁיבֵם, לְאָחִיךָ.
    – Zvi
    Jul 22, 2014 at 21:29
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    @Zvi I think the Chafetz Chaim was more homiletic than an actual Mitzvah. He has a very creative reading of the verse, if I recall correctly. Jul 22, 2014 at 21:54
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    @Zvi Never saw it inside, but the way I have heard it quoted I think he actually meant it as an application of lo sa'amod Jul 22, 2014 at 21:59
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    Didn't check it, but VERY impressive sourcing, +1
    – MTL
    Jul 23, 2014 at 0:58

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