Say Mr. X is pointing his gun and trying to kill me. My friend, happened to be walking by, grabs Mr. X and struggles to tackle him to the ground. I tell my friend, "No, go away; I got him!"

I have my gun, I shoot Mr. X; the bullet goes through his body and kills my friend too.

The Torah's story about an accidental death talks about a more direct death - I was chopping a tree and the handle flew off and killed someone who was passing by.

In this situation, my friend was trying to help me, and, was aware of the dangers in doing so, as he saw the man with the gun, and he heard me warn him to go away. In a sense, it wasn't a direct "accident" as described in the Torah, from what I can tell. My friend, "volunteered" to help and place himself in danger.

Given this scenario, is this considered a type of accidental death that would require me to go to a refuge city?

  • To clarify, I assume the alleged murderer could not have successfully saved himself without killing his attacker?
    – Loewian
    Mar 17, 2015 at 23:47
  • @loewian - correct assumption.
    – DanF
    Mar 18, 2015 at 1:45
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    So then it's really just a question of how negligent he was with regard to the "friend"?
    – Loewian
    Mar 18, 2015 at 2:09
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    Also, what is your assumption with the case where the friend did not intentionally put himself in danger but is still collateral damage in the execution of the rodef?
    – Loewian
    Mar 18, 2015 at 2:12

1 Answer 1


Rambam (Rotzeach 4:1, 6:10) says that if you intend to kill one person and killed another you don't get exiled. Here you did succeed at killing your target, but the extra death doesn't seem to be worse than one who throws a rock into a crowd who is also exempt (ibid.).

  • I'm afraid that's not comparable. I'm pretty sure in that case he forfeits the protection and atonement provided by the refuge city because it's like karov l'meizid (near intentional) and the goel hadam could still execute him wherever he finds him; whereas here there's a case to be made even that it's karov l'oness (near forced) or even complete oness (?) and the kapara of galus might not be necessary and the law of the go'el hadam might not apply. Or it could be a regular level of shogeg...
    – Loewian
    Mar 17, 2015 at 23:44
  • @loewian Why is this karov laones? The only difference I see here is the attack to kill the main guy was beheter (presumably as rodef). Maybe there's an oseik bemitzva/reshut component, à la pesachim ~72.
    – Double AA
    Mar 18, 2015 at 5:57
  • b/c the action he is doing is in order to save his own life - a classic example of oness.
    – Loewian
    Jan 28, 2021 at 18:04

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