web analytics
October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Yehareg V’al Ya’avor


A statue of Rambam in Cordova, Spain

A statue of Rambam in Cordova, Spain
Photo Credit: Chen Leopold/Flash 90

In both of this week’s parshiyos the Torah discusses the many different types of arayos (forbidden relationships). The following is one unique halacha that is associated with arayos: Concerning most aveiros, if one is put in a predicament where he must choose between saving his life and fulfilling a mitzvah (positive or negative commandment) he must choose to live and transgress the mitzvah. This is derived from the pasuk of  “…v’chai bahem.”  The Gemara in Sanhedrin 74a says that arayos are one of the three mitzvos that are yehareg v’al ya’avor (one must allow himself to be killed so as not to transgress the mitzvah), along with murder and avodah zarah.

One threatened with being killed if he would not transgress a mitzvah (not one of the three wrongdoings for which he must surrender his life) is not punished for transgressing the mitzvah, since he was an oness (forced into it). The Rambam (Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah 5:4) says that if a man is threatened with being killed if he does not violate one of the mitzvos for which he must surrender his life and he allows himself to be killed by not transgressing the mitzvah, he has created a kiddush Hashem. But if he saves his life by violating the mitzvah, it is a chillul Hashem. Nevertheless, since he was forced into it, the individual is not punished for breaching the mitzvah, even though he was supposed to forfeit his life under these conditions. The Rambam writes in a letter that such a person is not called a poshea or a rasha.

Later in that perek the Rambam writes (halacha 6) that the halacha regarding a situation whereby someone forces another to do an aveirah applies when one has a life-threatening sickness that requires him to transgress a mitzvah. If doctors determine that a person will die if he does not transgress a certain mitzvah, he must violate the mitzvah and save his life. However, if his treatment requires him to be in violation of one of the three aforementioned mitzvos for which he must give up his life, he may not disobey the mitzvah even though it is necessary to save his life. The Rambam adds that if one treats his life-threatening sickness by committing one of the three aveiros that are yehareg v’al ya’avor, the beis din will render an appropriate punishment.

The Achronim raise this point and ask a follow-up question: When a person forces another to transgress one of the mitzvos that are in the category of yehareg v’al ya’avor, and if one does not give up his life and instead disobeys the mitzvah, the Rambam said that he is not punished since he was forced. Why then is one punished when he has a life-threatening sickness that is forcing him to violate one of the mitzvos of yehareg v’al ya’avor, and he indeed commits this transgression? What is the difference if the oness resulted from the action of an outside person or from a sickness? In both scenarios the individual did not transgress willingly.

Some Achronim suggest that the Rambam never intended to say that one who commits one of the three aveiros of yehareg v’al ya’avor in order to save his life from his sickness is punished with the sentence associated with that aveirah; rather, the Rambam intended to say that since he should not have taken the medicine the beis din should punish him in their own way. This is similar to makos mardus, whereby the beis din metes out their own punishment. Therefore, a person does not deserve to be punished in both the case when a person forces someone to do an aveirah and the case when a sickness forces one to commit a transgression. This is because in both cases he is considered an oness. But it is still unresolved as to why the Rambam wrote that the beis din should render its own punishment by the halacha of a sickness, but did not hold the same view earlier regarding the halacha of a person who forces someone else to transgress.

Reb Meir Simcha of Davinsk, in his sefer, Ohr Sameach on the Rambam, explains that the two cases cannot be compared. When someone forces a person to do something, he is only doing it to fulfill the will of the person who forced him to take this action. He is not fulfilling his own will. As a result he is considered an oness, and thus does not deserve a punishment. But when one is sick and in order to save his life he must commit a certain aveirah, it is his will to do the aveirah. The sickness is not an outside force; rather it is within him. So when he commits the aveirah, it is considered as if he did it willingly. Hence he deserves the punishment associated with the aveirah he committed.

For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.

About the Author: For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Yehareg V’al Ya’avor”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Arabs burn tires in Shuafat neighborhood of Jerusalem.
Arab Violence in Jerusalem Forces Police to Return Law and Order
Latest Judaism Stories
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Boundaries must be set in every home. Parents and children are not pals. They are not equals.

Rabbi Avi Weiss, head of theYeshivat Chovevei Torah. Rabbi Asher Lopatin will be replacing him as head of the school.

Noah and his wife could not fathom living together as husband and wife and continuing the human race

Rabbi Sacks

The Babel story is the 2nd in a 4-act drama that’s unmistakably a connecting thread of Bereishit

Bible1

Our intentions are critical in raising children because they mimic everything we parents do & think

A humble person who achieves a position of prominence will utilize the standing to benefit others.

Myth #1: It is easy to be a B’nai Noach. It is extraordinarily hard to be a B’nai Noach.

The creation of the world is described twice. Each description serves a unique purpose.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

To the surprise of our protectzia-invested acquaintances, my family has thrived in our daled amos without that amenity, b’ezras Hashem.

Shimon started adjusting the branches on the roof. In doing so, a branch fell off the other side of the car and hit the side-view mirror, cracking it.

I, the one who is housed inside this body, am completely and utterly spiritual.

Should we sit in the sukkah on a day that may be the eighth day when we are not commanded to sit in the sukkah at all?

For Appearance’s Sake
‘Shammai Did Not Follow Their Own Ruling’
(Yevamos 13b 14a)

If one hurts another human being, God is hurt; if one brings joy to another, God is more joyous.

I’m grateful to Hashem for everything; Just the same, I’d love a joyous Yom Tov without aggravation.

Bereshit: Life includes hard choices that challenge our decisions, leaving lingering complications.

More Articles from Rabbi Raphael Fuchs
Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

Others suggest that one cannot separate Shabbos from Yom Kippur by accepting Shabbos early.

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

While women are exempt from actually learning Torah, they are obligated in a different aspect of the mitzvah.

The Chafetz Chaim answered that there are two forms of teshuvah; teshuvah m’ahava and teshuvah m’yirah.

Since it is a Rabbinic prohibition we may follow the more lenient opinion.

They ask, how can Rabbeinu Gershom forbid marrying more than one wife, when the Torah explicitly permits it in this parshah?

First, how could a beis din of 23 judges present a guilty verdict in a capital punishment case? After all, only a majority of the 23 judges ruled in favor of his verdict.

According to Rabbi Yishmael one was not permitted to eat such an animal prior to entering Eretz Yisrael, while according to Rabbi Akiva one was permitted to eat animals if he would perform nechirah.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/yehareg-val-yaavor/2012/05/02/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: