Are you supposed to make a kiddush H'--that is, sacrifice your own life--rather than be m'ratzech a nochri, Gd forbid?

If not-and this is the more important part of my question, because I think the answer is "not"--to exactly what extent are you supposed to go to avoid such an aveira? Which other halachas may/must you be doche?

I deliberately wrote this a bit obliquely; please answer in kind. (Although not too obliquely, or else I won't be able to read it!)

  • Ritzuach Hana"l is not permitted other than Amalek, so are you saying that you should not do kiddush h, rather you should to retzach?
    – Hershy S.
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 3:46
  • @heshy Well a Kiddush H' is a very high cost for a mitzva and we generally only demand it for a few things +/-
    – SAH
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 3:52
  • The same thing for an eved. There is a Al a difference between nochri and ger toshav because of the practice of avoda Zara. To be not Jew and not make a.z. is more like ger toshav
    – kouty
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 4:15
  • can we have an example? Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 4:20
  • 1
    @MonicaCellio but consider judaism.meta.stackexchange.com/q/3686/759
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 16:36

1 Answer 1


Rambam Hilchos Rotzeach 2:10-11 with Kessef Mishnah explains that it is forbidden to kill a Gentile. The penalty for killing a Gentile is "death by the hands of heaven". The Ra'avan in his commentary to Bava Kamma 74d also explains that "Thou shalt not murder" in the Ten Commandments applies to any person, including gentiles. (as well as not to steal or commit adultery)

The Rambam Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah 5:7 brings the Gemara's ruling (Pesachim 25b etc.) as Law and explains in a case where someone threatens Reuven and says kill Shimon or I will kill you!; a person must rather be killed than to murder someone else. The reason is "who says your blood is redder?" or why should one life be chosen over the other?

The Kessef Mishnah explains that even in a case where you could actually prove that someone's blood is in fact redder than the other person's, (the other fellow's life is more important) we still do not commit murder to save ourselves. The Jewish people have a tradition that we do not do so under any and all circumstances. The logical reason given by the Gemara, usually applies. But, even if it doesn't,the Law remains the same.

Now the Rambam, and Rashi, seem to frame the case by example, regarding two Jews. However, if we go with the Kessef Mishnah's tradition, then Rambam and Rashi are simply stating the case to match the Gemara's logic (weighing two potentially equal lives on a scale). However, the Kessef Mishnah's tradition teaches that the logic need not apply. As long as its a question of murdering someone to save oneself, we forbid it. So why would we weigh the difference in who to save based on Jew or Gentile (even if one has more commandments than the other etc.)? Besides, what would be the point of killing someone else to save your life, when the penalty is death? You didn't save your own life at all if it is condemned to be punished by death?!

Finally, IMHO, the greatest Kiddush Hashem is for a person to withstand any urge (even self preservation) and show the world that a Jew, Hashem's representative, would never commit murder! This sacrifice is the better path because we must make sure human life is precious in the eyes of the world.

I hope this helps, :-)

  • 1
    “Besides, what would be the point of killing someone else to save your life, when the penalty is death?” Are you sure this is true? Wouldn’t someone who kills under duress be classified as an ones and thus not be liable for the death penalty himself?
    – Joel K
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 12:17
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    What are you talking about? Rambam 1:1 couldn't be more explicit: כל הורג נפש אדם מישראל--עובר בלא תעשה The phrase Ben Adam doesn't appear at all in the Rambam's words
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 12:33
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    I thought we were discussing what the Rambam wrote, not what some Christians wrote. I'm sorry you were mislead by those websites. Please update your post to remove the mistaken information. (Those websites aren't presenting Rambam's words but rather a Christian corruption of them. It's like using a quote of Tanakh in the New Testament instead of using the original: there's bound to be important differences.)
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 12:54
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    I don't have links to manuscripts if that's what you want, though I'm sure you can find details of them if you look at the Frankel edition or R Kappach's edition of the Rambam. Quoting a censored text as accurate is a really really good reason to cry foul. If you are curious why those websites published inaccurate texts you should email them, though probably it's due to lack of time and funding to do it right, and these texts being available in the public domain or something. Sefaria doesn't even use the accepted text of the Torah for those very reasons!
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 13:09
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    The Italian print of רלה, the Venetian prints of שלד, The Constantinople edition. Also Mechon Mamre, Yad Peshuta, and Kappach (and the Yemenite manuscripts). Again, Sefaria even has a different text of the Torah because they don't have the resources to get a better one! When's the last time you saw a Chumash that prints Genesis 8:20 like this sefaria.org/Genesis.8.20 Sefaria has הטהורה and הטהר while every Torah scroll written today has הטהרה and הטהור.
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 13:46

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