This is an oddly specific question but the thought came to me and I wanted to know what your opinions on it would be.

Historically speaking, human sacrifice was a regular occurrence in various pagan communities. The Canaanites were said to have practiced child sacrifice as part of their practices.

Say that a Jew had been taken hostage by the Canaanites or similar and they were planning on sacrificing him to their deities.

  • Would a Jew be doing the better thing if he killed himself in order to not allow his death honor a god that wasn't Hashem?

  • Or would his sacrifice ultimately not matter because there are no gods but Hashem. Thus attempting to prevent the sacrifice is partially you acknowledging another god that isn't Hashem?

  • The problem is I don't believe that logical train of thought is correct because we purposely create Mevushal wine in order to prevent such sacrifices from taking place. So then the sacrifice obviously would matter at some level, wouldn't it?

It's a complex question because I'm trying to figure out if this would fall under a similar category as being forced to worship gods that weren't Hashem.

Jewish tradition establishes that Jews who died as martyrs died having done Kiddush Hashem. My question is would the act of committing suicide to prevent your death worshipping a foreign diety be considered a form of Kiddush Hashem?

Obviously, there's a moral complication here in that you'd be committing a gross act of sin through suicide. That being said, is the context of your sinful action understood as being an act of loyalty since you are preventing your death from honoring another diety?

I was curious what your thoughts on this would be.

  • 1
    Maybe not. How about Masada? It's more Christianity thought, and be considered as a sacrifice.
    – user15676
    Commented Oct 6, 2017 at 0:35
  • 2
    This question has definite historical relevance. The Moabite Stone/Mesha Stele explicitly says that when Moab took back the towns that Omri and Ahab had taken from them, they devoted the Israelites living there and other spoils of war to Chemosh.
    – Gary
    Commented Oct 6, 2017 at 2:32
  • @user15676 Masada was a different situation because the Jews weren't going to be forced to convert. Judaism was a recognized religion of the Roman Empire The main thing there is Roman slaves were allowed to freely worship in their faith system. This meant slavery was the more acceptable option than suicide since they were allowed to continue serving Hashem while in slavery.
    – user15672
    Commented Oct 6, 2017 at 12:30
  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/71322/8775
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Oct 7, 2017 at 23:55
  • Good question. I suggest you start by seeing how King Saul requested his death. I understand that it's questionable if this was considered suicide in an exact sense. He leaned on his sword so he started his own death, but he requested someone else to complete the job.
    – DanF
    Commented Oct 8, 2017 at 2:37

1 Answer 1


I think that it certainly would be better to give up your life to not be sacrificed to an idol since there are multiple cases with the cantonists where the Tzemach Tzedek (זצ״ל) told them that it would be better to give up your life al kiddush Hashem than to convert to christianity. You can probably apply that here to.

  • -1 The question is not about giving up one's life (which can be done passively), to avoid committing a cardinal prohibition. The question is about actively killing one's self, so as not to participate (passively) in someone else's cardinal prohibition.
    – Tamir Evan
    Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 2:22

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