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Violating the Shabbos in a case a life threatening situation is a mitzvah (Yoma 84)

However what if one comes across a dead person on Shabbos. Normally one would report this to the police. However on Shabbos where the person is already dead. May one call the police and notify them?

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    What pikuach nefesh exists to permit breaking shabbat? – chacham Nisan Sep 15 '18 at 18:13
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    Would one suspect there is a murderer on the run looking to murder other people? Or is it natural death – mbloch Sep 15 '18 at 18:31
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    @mbloch I don't know that's a good question – Shoel U'Meishiv Sep 15 '18 at 18:35
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    Isn't there a Biblical prohibition to leave the deceased unburied? – Lee Sep 15 '18 at 18:56
  • @Lee you don't call the police to bury the body. – Al Berko Sep 15 '18 at 19:39
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The question is not about the body - the police do not resurrect (as of now), but about its condition and the consequences of the discovery:

  1. First, if the body looks fresh and recent - you must call the ambulance first, as the person might be not as much dead as you think!

  2. If it's fresh there might be a following Pikuach Nefesh danger for others (think of a serial killer) or for you to be found near the body (if the killer is near). In this case, you must call the police.

  3. If the body is old and there's no reason to believe that an immediate danger emerges for you, for the body or for others, there's no permission to break Shabbat.


PS on #2: I came across (what looked to me like) a dead homeless person some 12 years ago in Jerusalem, and I ran to a secular guy to use his phone to call an ambulance. Turned out he passed out and it saved his life!

  • What does a downvote mean - you don't agree with my reasoning? We should stop letting people downvote without commenting! – Al Berko Sep 15 '18 at 20:32
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    I haven't downvoted. However I think, "My common sense" doesn't count as a valid source. B"H you were zoche to save someone's life. – user218076 Sep 16 '18 at 2:57
  • Why should we downvote this? IMHO 1. The answer submitted his own common sense as a source, obviously based on his own understanding of Torah/Halachah. So? 2. The OP declared: "Violating the Shabbos in a case [of] a life threatening situation, is a mitzvah....HOWEVER". An answer should not be required to be smarter than the OP usually. The OP gave as a "given" that finding a body is not pikuach nefesh. The answer objected and showed how it could be in fact life saving (at least out of doubt). 3. non sourced answers should only be downvoted if you disagree or have proof against it. – David Kenner Sep 16 '18 at 3:49
  • @user218076 If common sense works for Rambam or Meiri or Chofetz Chaim, I don't see a reason it won't work for others. After all "אל תסתכל בקנקן". – Al Berko Sep 16 '18 at 9:10
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    @David You just said one could downvote if they disagree and you also ask why should we downvote. Clearly someone disagrees. This shouldn't be perplexing or unexpected – Double AA Sep 17 '18 at 12:34

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