I was in a situation where someone basically approached me indicating he was going to fight me, squared up with me, stared me down etc. pushed me twice, and then I thought to myself, "If he raises a fist, I'm going to hit him", based on the Gemara(Brachos 58a), "if one comes to kill you kill him first", and that is exactly what happened.

Was that allowed according to Halacha?

Perhaps I could have turned and ran, but the situation didn't exactly call for that, and I couldn't be sure that I wouldn't have been punched from behind (extremely dangerous)...

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    warz3, a belated welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for brining your questions here! I look forward to continuing to see you around. Please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 19:13
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    Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/12897
    – Fred
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 21:01

2 Answers 2


I had this situation once. It actually got physical. Story time folks. For those who want to skip to the psak that answers the question, scroll down to the last paragraph.

Boro park in the early nineties. I had just gotten down the block after davening by the early minyan on Motzei Shabbos and just took a couple of steps into the street when some guy who was speeding like a lunatic almost ran me over. He actually had the nerve to stop his car and start yelling anti-Semitic slurs and how 'if we wouldn't always dress in black he could've seen me'. I still said nothing. Apparantly this wasn't enough for him and he started dancing in front of me with his fists up like he thought he was a boxer or something. There was nobody there to call for help. I did what I had to do. Bisiata diShmaya I landed two solid shots straight across his jaw. This left him reeling for a moment. Long enough for me to start going on my way. Then this guy started yelling for more. I turned to see he was weilding his CLUB (remember those?) Like a baseball bat. At this point I ran! I got two blocks down before he caught up with me and jumped out of his car again with his CLUB. Now I was scared. But then I was zocheh to have almost simultaneously all 3 Chassidishe shuls on that corner let out of Maariv. You should've seen this guy's face when he saw hundreds of Jews in black pouring into the street. Back in the car speeding home to Bensonhurst he went.

The next day I felt bad and asked my Rosh Yeshiva if what I did was proper. What if this guy goes and takes it out on some other Jew? He told me I did the right thing and hopefully he was taken care of well enough that he wouldn't start up with any other Jew ever again.


See this article The excerpt appears on page 4.

It would appear that the halachah of rodef combines the concept of saving the victim's life and punishing the aggressor into a single law. For ordinary sins—even those that carry the death penalty—a person cannot be punished before the sin is actually committed. With regard to a potential killer, however, whose murderous sin is liable to cause irreparable damage, the Torah obligates the killing (if necessary) of the rodef, punishing the evil deed in advance of its commission.

This combination emerges from the writings of the Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim (Part 3, Chap. 60): This law… is only permitted in two cases, which are the case of somebody pursuing his fellow to kill him, and the case of somebody pursuing a married woman, for this is a wrong that cannot be repaired after it is done.

The article also states,(it's a long article!) that, ideally, if you can prevent the person from pursuing you further, without killing him, you should do this first. So, offhand, it appears that what you and @user6591 did posed no problem whatsoever. Note, the parentheses in the 1st paragraph "(if necessary)". I infer that if you are allowed to kill, you are certainly allowed to injure / disable the rodef.

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    i didnt kill him, i just punched him and got out of there
    – warz3
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 20:20

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