If you save a life are you obligated to it ?


I know near nothing about my question, that is why I asked it. I don’t I will find an answer. That is partially why I chose this question. I think there may be several religious answers to this question, although I think they will not be very straightforward. I think this question will only ultimately lead to more questions being asked.


I want somewhat of an answer to the question (not dead on necessarily). I would rather seek the reasoning of the answers  how it applies to me and my life. I think these answers will be separated by many polars. I assume this because everyone has a different story and life, therefore they will think differently on the subject this question represents.


This is what a christian woman said her faith believes.

If you save someone’s life spiritually, then it is your responsibility as a Christian to help them understand the Christian faith and to help them remain in faith. For example, if you are able to convince a drug addict to follow you to church, it is your responsibility as a brother or sister in Christ to help the addict understand the Christian faith and why drug abuse isn’t good. However, if you save someone’s life physically, you are not responsible for them. If you are fire service man and you rescue a child from the flame, you have done your part.




This is what a jewish person said he believes.



Saving Someone Else’s Life Even if it Means Losing your own


Devarim 25:12 Leviticus 19:16 Rashbam: Rashi: Rambam: Rabbi Eliezer Melamed Standing aside when something bad befalls your neighbor 1) “Loving your neighbor as you love yourself” (Rabbi Akiva considers the most fundamental principles of the Torah) Talmud: “From where do we know that if your neighbor is drowning, or some wild beast is about to devour him, or he is about to be murdered by bandits that one is obligated to save him?” Human Relations 2) “and you shall return to him” 3) “Thou shall not stand aside when mischief befalls your neighbor.” If a Jew is in danger, someone is required to do whatever is needed to save that persons life http://e.yeshiva.org.il/midrash/shiur.asp?id=700 Living by the Mitzvot http://books.google.com/books?id=nFjaEDVYJeQC&pg=PA87&lpg=PA87&dq=Mitzvot+concerning+saving+someone+in+danger&source=bl&ots=X0__0KISrr&sig=FoK39038nnv_7Y3aI-zNvP1F8wM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=CAN7T-zSBcbN0AHDt4jBBg&ved=0CCEQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Mitzvot%20concerning%20saving%20someone%20in%20danger&f=false Mitzvot are here to enrich our lives; therefore, if it comes down to doing a mitzvah or saving someones life, you would choose to save the life Can break Shabbat to save someone “When the rabbis tell us that we must regard the mitzvot of saving a life as paramount, they mean one simple thing. No mitzvah may stand in the way of saving ‘s life” Can the rescuer endanger his life? First approach: People who feel that Jews should live by the Torah and its mitzvot; they should not die by them One does not need to endanger his life = One is not obligated to risk his life to save someone However, one shoud not be overly cautious with the mitzvah when it comes to a life or death situation Sanhedrin (73,a): “One should be willing to endanger himself to some extent in order to save another’s life” Petchei Tshuva: One should not be overly cautious because it will lead them to a similar life and death situation with nobody to save them. Conclusion: One is not obligated to save someone if it will put himself in mortal danger (defined by when a person is not willing to risk his life even if it is for his possessions) http://e.yeshiva.org.il/midrash/shiur.asp?id=700 Second Approach: Different from other mitzvot because it has to do with saving someone’s life One is obligated whether or not someone would take the danger upon himself However, there are conditions in endangering ones life depends on whether the rescuer is succesful and saves both of them. Beit Yosef Choshen Mishpat 426: ” If, however, there is only a fifty percent chance that both will live then one is not obligated to save a fellow Jew’s life” In order to defeat their enemy, success and failure does not matter 50% chance of success condition does not apply when one’s community is in danger War One is allowed to put himself in danger for the sake of the public’s well being http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/9920/showrashi/true :You shoud not just stand by while your peer is dying especally when you can save him People who take action when someone is in trouble are payed with a ‘reward’. The ones who don’t, will get a punishment “You will not stand on the other hand, but you can save lives by pursuing” Pikuach Nefesh Shabbat? Can break the rules of Shabbat in order to save someone’s life

If the victim is not in such a severe state, violation of shabbat rules should be minimal, or if possible the whole act should be done by a non-Jew

Talmud gives examples: ‘rescuing a child from the sea, breaking apart a wall that has collapsed on a child, breaking down a door about to close on an infant, and extinguishing a fire’

Rabbi Akiva


Ben Petura Two people were traveling, and [only] one of them had a canteen of water. [There was only enough water so that] if both of them drank they would both die, but if one of them drank [only] he would be able reach an inhabited area [and live]. Ben Petura: Give up your own life in order to save another

“Better that both should drink and die than that one see his friend’s death”

Based on Rambam


Rabbi Akiva: No obligation save someone else if it means losing your own life

“Your life takes precedence”

Based on Tosafot, Rav Chaim, and Rashi

Exceptions… Murder




http://www.myjewishlearning.com/practices/Ethics/Our_Bodies/Health_and_Healing/Saving_a_Life.shtml YESHIVAT HAR ETZIONISRAEL KOSCHITZKY VIRTUAL BEIT MIDRASH (VBM) – DOC http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/pikuach_nefesh.html Medical: Organ Donation http://www.myjewishlearning.com/beliefs/Issues/Bioethics/Organ_Donation.shtml Controversy: Cannot put oneself in danger “Take heed to thyself and keep thy soul diligently,” (Deut 4:9) Both Talmud and Rambam comment saying that the person has an obligation to not put himself in danger Not allowed to take organs form a cadaver because it is making the body impure Pikuach Nefesh Conclusion: allowed to donate organs and receive them from a cadaver Saving a Non-Jew http://www.myjewishlearning.com/beliefs/Issues/Jews_and_Non-Jews/Legal_Issues/Non-Jew_in_Jewish_Law.shtml Murder Tosafot: In certain situations, someone can kill in order to save his life. “Who says your blood is redder? Maybe your friend’s blood is redder!” Rabbi Elyakim Krumbein says that Tosafot did not take this literal enough. Concludes that someone is not allowed to kill to save one’s life (does not include self-defense) Rambam: In no circumsances, may a person commit passive murder even to save someone else Everyone must protect his own life, however when faced with a dilemma of killing someone or dying, chose dying Murder is worse than not saving someone (Rav Chaim) Final conclusion: One must not decide who to save (even though one’s life may be lost) because we do not know whose blood is ‘redder’ Obligated to get killed because of Kiddush Hashem Not saving life, but giving up own life for a ‘higher cause’ Hold non-Jews and Jews to different ‘standard’ when it came to saving their lives on Shabbat (Before modern times) ex: A Jewish doctor can only break Rabbinc laws as opposed to Torah Laws to save a gentiles life Now a days, someone should save a non-Jew’s life just like he would save a Jew’s life Controversy: If in a situation where would save a non-Jew or a Jew, save the Jew Rashi: There is a commandment that says “you shall not murder”; therefore, one should let himself die in order to prevent himself from committing this sin. If the person saves the other persons life but loses his own, this does not constitute as “saving” There is no obligation to save someone else’s life if it will bring upon your own death “then thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall have no pity.’ “Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people; neither shalt thou stand idly by the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD.’ Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people; neither shalt thou stand idly by the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD.

Full transcript


I find these two points both very valid and interesting. Although I can not say one is the right answer. I think that this is a question that will truly never be anwsered because of the diversity among people and their beliefs.




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