In the Rambam's Mishneh Torah Yesodei haTorah Chapter 5:2, he explains that a Jew must die rather than perform idolatry, murder, or gilui arayos.

Does this also apply in cases of doubt? (i.e whether or not the object is a false deity, or a forbidden relation, etc)

  • Safek d'oraita l'chumra Nov 22, 2016 at 3:27
  • 4
    it goes both ways,chai bahem,and yarog vlo yavor,so what is your point?
    – sam
    Nov 22, 2016 at 3:33
  • 4
    @noach How does that help?
    – Double AA
    Nov 22, 2016 at 4:36
  • 4
    @sam yehareig (be killed), not yaharog (kill)
    – Scimonster
    Nov 22, 2016 at 7:22
  • 1
    seems like it might qualify as abizrayhu.
    – Loewian
    Sep 3, 2017 at 5:09

2 Answers 2


Edit: I now found this article which discusses it at length, and concludes directly:

דבאמת בספק ג' עבירות חמורות, כגון ספק רציחה או ספק גילוי עריות אמרינן דספיקא לחומרא, ויהרג ואל יעבור...‏

Here's the original answer that I gave:

  1. In this Derasha of the Parashas Derachim, he quotes the Terumas Hadeshen discussing a similar case, where there seems to be a Machlokes whether or not to die Al Kiddush Hashem. The Terumas Hadeshen says:

    אמנם י"ל הכא דלענין קידוש השם שלא הקפידה תורה על אבוד נפשות מישראל ואמרה מסור עצמך על קידוש השם לא ילפינן לה משאר ספיקא דלית בהו משום קידוש השם...‏

    The Parashas Derachim (and me too) understands the Terumas Hadeshen to be saying that in a Safek here, where there is a factor of Kiddush Hashem, we do not follow the general rule of Safek Nefashos Lehakel, but rather, he should die rather than commit the Aveirah.

    This would seem to very clearly apply to your case of Safek as well, and we would say that one should still die.

    Edit 2: I see that the Divrei Yirmiyahu here gives the same proof as I just did.

  2. While we don't bring Halachic proofs from Aggadah, I thought of a creative one anyways. The Gemara in Bava Metzia 59a says that one should commit adultery with a possibly (Safek) married woman rather than whiten one's face publicly:

    נוח לו לאדם שיבא על ספק אשת איש ואל ילבין פני חבירו ברבים

    Sefer Menoras Hamaor (2:1:5:2:1), learns from this Gemara that Malbin Penei Chaveiro is just as severe as Gilui Arayos, which is Yehareig Ve'al Yaavor (his words), which seems to show that he understood that even Safek Eishes Ish is Yehareig Veal Yaavor. (See various Rishonim there for why Safek Eishes Ish is used rather than the case of a certain Eishes Ish.)

    Note that in Berachos 43b it says that one should die rather than whiten someone's face in public, so perhaps that would support our point, although it is not logically rigorous to say that "b < a, b < c, therefore a = c."

(Note that there is a major discussion about Chumros in these cases, and that each case may need to be judged individually, which is what the Terumas Hadeshen concludes that Teshuva with.)


In the case of doubt, it is not Kidush Hashem. It would seem loke a "chance" of allegedly earning Kidush Hashem. Even if after the act, the doubt was uncovered in such a way that if in the first place it was known, a Kidush Hashem would have the right act, it still does not count as Kidush Hashem.

I don't know if it would be considered suicide really, or if there is such a thing as a suicide in Shogeg...

NOTE: Kidush Hashem is indeed required in the three cases mentioned in the question ("idolatry, murder, or gilui arayos"). BUT, altough a Machloikes, according to some Rishonim like the Smak (מצווה ג) and the Toisfos (עבודה זרה כז:), and so in the Rosh and the Tur, it is spcifically stated that if a Jew wishes to do a "Mesirus Nefesh" on other Mitzvos, he (is not obligated to bet) can. The Smak even says that it is "Midas Chadidus".

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