I've been hearing the phrase "This is not being meikil1 on Shabbos, this is being machmir2 on pikuach nefesh3" for a long time. I've heard it quoted from R' Chaim, from the Gra, and from various and sundry other sources.

It has also been, in my experience, applied to eating on Yom Kippur and other instances of pikuach nefesh, but I've always understood that the original quote was said about Shabbos.

Who was the originator of this line? Can I find it anywhere, "inside"?

1 lenient
2 stringent
3 the obligation to preserve one's life, which overrides Shabbos and most other mitzvos

  • I don't have the time right now, but perhaps someone can create a glossary entry for my keywords? ...I think the footnotes are ugly (though better than parentheses, in this case), and the question would have a better appearance if the keywords were linked to MY glossary definitions.
    – MTL
    Feb 11, 2015 at 2:15
  • It is attributed here to R. Moshe Feinstein and here and here to R. Chaim Soloveitchik.
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 11, 2015 at 2:39

1 Answer 1


The answer seems to be most probably R. Chaim Soloveitchik. This is recorded here. Additionally, Ishim V'shitot of R. Zevin (ed. Kol M'vaser, 2007, pp. 51-2) attributes it to him:

מחמיר לפי הגדרתו של ר' חיים עצמו. וכך היה אומר: כלום אני מקיל באיסורים? אדרבה אני מחמיר בפיקוח נפש.

This is consistent with R. Soloveitchik's approach to such matters, as R. Zevin further discusses there.

  • Incidentally, the majority of attributions for it I found online were to R. Chaim
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 11, 2015 at 3:05
  • the second source quotes שמואל ביאלובלוצקי. I cant find any info. about him other than that he wrote a book in 1971.
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 11, 2015 at 3:14
  • Thanks! I was kind of hoping for a source inside R Chaim; but if he never wrote it....I'll have to see if I can find a copy of Ishim V'shitos, then.
    – MTL
    Feb 12, 2015 at 15:44

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