The Gemara (Sanhedrin 74a) derives that one must give up his life rather than murder someone else because “who says that your blood is redder than his?” That is, who said you have more of a right to live than he does?

By this same logic, if Reuven were drowning in a river and Shimon could save him (lo sa’amod al dam rei’echa), but Levi tells Shimon that if he saves Reuven he will be killed, must Shimon refuse to obey? On the one hand, it’s only passive, rather than active; on the other hand, perhaps since Shimon has the ability to save Reuven it’s no different than murdering him if he doesn’t save him.

  • Yaharog means he should kill. I think the term you're looking for is yehareg (he should be killed) v'al yaavor. – Scimonster Apr 9 at 6:41
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Tosfos (Sanhedrin 74b s.v. והא אסתר) says:

ורוצח גופיה כי מיחייב למסור עצמו ה"מ קודם שיהרג בידים אבל היכא דלא עביד מעשה כגון שמשליכין אותו על התינוק ומתמעך מסתברא שאין חייב למסור עצמו דמצי אמר אדרבה מאי חזית דדמא דחבראי סומקי טפי דילמא דמא דידי סומק טפי כיון דלא עביד מעשה

The case of murder itself, he is obligated to sacrifice himself before he kills with his hands, but where he does no action, for example, he is thrown on a child and [the child] is crushed, it makes sense that he is not obligated to sacrifice himself because he can say "On the contrary, why can you say that the blood of my friend is redder than mine, maybe mine is redder" since he is not doing an action.

So too in this case, where there is no action demanded of the person that causes the death of another, he is not obligated to sacrifice himself to save another.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .