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18 Issue #23
Parshas Behar
Yosef Karo, both in his Kessef Mishnehon the above cited
Rambam (ibid) and in his Beis Yosef on the Tur (Choshen
Mishpat 426:1), quotes that the Hagahos Maimoniyos cites
a Yerushalmi which indicates that one is indeed obligated to
enter into a potentially dangerous situation in order to save
someone who is definitely in danger, and he suggests that
the reason is that it is only a possible danger for the one per-
son as opposed to a definite danger for the other. It should
be noted that this comment of the Hagahos Maimoniyos
does not appear in the standard edition of the Rambams
Mishneh Torah, but in a different manuscript now printed
in the back of the edition of the Mishneh Torah published by
Rabbi Shabsi Frankel.

The Hagahos Maimoniyos there does not identify
the location of this Yerushalmi, but the Netziv, in his com-
mentary entitled Haamek Sheeilah on the Sheiltos
(129:4) points to the Yerushalmi in Terumos (8:4) which
relates that a certain Amora was once trapped in a danger-
ous place, and whereas one of his friends had abandoned
hope of saving him, Reish Lakish expressed the readiness to
go save him even if it meant that his own life could be lost
in the process. This would seem to indicate that one is in-
deed obligated to save another from certain death even if
doing so will endanger his own life. The Netziv suggests
that some understand this to be the opinion as well of Rav
Achai Gaon, the author of the Sheiltos, and the Chavos
Yair (146)seems to accept this as the Halacha, noting that
such is the understanding of the aforementioned Gemara in
Bava Metzia which implies that the one who has the water
should drink it all himself only if it is certain that should
they split it theyll die, but if its possible that theyll both
live, they must share it. In other words, the one who has
the water must share it even though that may possibly en-
danger his own life, because this action may save his friend
from certain death.

The Sma, however, points out (Choshen Mishpat
426:2) that this ruling of the Yerushalmi is not cited in the
Shulchan Aruch by either the Mechaber or the Ramo, and
he posits that this is because the major Poskim, namely, the
Risking Ones life to Save Another
Rabbi Michael Taubes
When describing the laws forbidding a Jew to col-
lect interest on a loan made to another Jew, the Torah uses
the expression vchei achicha imach, that your brother (a
fellow Jew) may live along with you (Vaykira 25:36). The
Gemara in Bava Metzia (62a) presents a well-known dispute
in connection with which this phrase is applied in a com-
pletely different context. The Gemara discusses a case of
two travelers, one of whom has a canteen with water, but
not enough for both of them to survive on before reaching
the nearest town. If they will each drink some of the water,
it will not suffice for either one and they will both die,
whereas if one will keep all the water for himself, he will
indeed survive and reach the town, although the other will
die. According to the Gemara, Ben Petura rules that in such
a case, they should split the water and each drink even if it
means they will both die, whereas Rabbi Akiva, citing this
phrase vchei achicha imach, and apparently stressing the
word imach along with you, as pointed out by the Rosh
there (5:6), rules that the one who has the water should
drink it all himself even if his friend will die as a result, be-
cause chayecha kodmin lchayei chavercha, where a choice
must be made, ones own life takes precedence over some-
one elses. Ones responsibility to save another human be-
ings life exists only when he will be able to live imach,
along with you, but if not, then preserving ones own life
comes first; one therefore may not give up ones own life to
save someone elses. If, however, one can save someone
elses life without giving up his own, he is certainly obli-
gated to do so, as the Rambam (Hilchos Rotzeach1:14) and
the Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 426:1) state clearly,
based on a Gemara in Sanhedrin (73a).

What if one can save someone elses life in such a
way that he wont definitely be giving up his own life, but
there will be a possible danger to his own life? In other
words, is one obligated, or even allowed, to put himself in a
potentially dangerous and life-threatening situation in order
to save the life of another who indefinitely in danger? Rav

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Page 2 Vol . 18 Issue #23
Rif, the Rambam, the Rosh, and the Tur, all omit this view.
The Pischei Teshuvah (426:2) quotes from a Sefer called
Agudas Eizov that the reason for this omission is that al-
though it may be the position of the Yerushalmi that one
must risk endangering ones life to save someone else from
certain death, the Bavli disagrees, and the Halacha thus fol-
lows the Bavli that one is indeed not required to jeopardize
ones own life to save another person.

As for where exactly the Bavli disagrees about this,
Rav Ovadyah Yosef (Yechaveh Daas volume 3 siman 84),
in discussing the issue of donating for a kidney transplant,
also cites this Agudas Eizov quoting that the Bavli referred
to is a Gemara in Niddah (61a) which states that Rabbi Tar-
fon did not want to hide certain people concerning whom
there was a rumor that they had committed a murder and
who were thus wanted by the authorities. Tosafos quotes
from the aforementioned Sheiltos (in a different version
from the text we have) that Rabbi Tarfons reasoning was
that if he would hide them, thereby saving their lives, he
would be endangering his own life because if he were to be
caught harboring criminals, he would be executed himself.
In other words, according to the Agudas Eizov, he didnt
want to possibly endanger his own life in order to save oth-
ers from certain danger, a position which is against the
above Yerushalmi.

The above cited Netziv, however, seems to learn
this Gemara differently, stressing that Rabbi Tarfons re-
fusal was based his suspicion that those men were actually
guilty, and that had had he been sure they were innocent,
he would indeed have hidden them, despite the potential
danger. Moreover, Rashi also seems to say that Rabbi Tar-
fon refused to hide them not because of any danger to him-
self, but because he felt that perhaps theyre guilty, in
which case its forbidden to hide them. Rabbeinu Yehuda
HaChassid, in his Sefer Chassidim (siman 683), in fact rules,
referring to this Gemara, that one should not give refuge to
a murderer, whether a Jew or a non-Jew. There is there-
fore no clear proof from this Gemara that the Bavli dis-
agrees with the Yerushalmi about risking ones life to save
someone else.

The Netziv, however, quotes the above cited Ge-
mara in Sanhedrin (73a) which states that in order to save
someones life, a person must even be prepared to exert
great effort and spend money, if necessary; Rashi explains
that one must look into every possible way to save anothers
life. No mention is made there, however, of endangering
ones own life to save the other person, implying that the
Bavli here indeed disagrees with the Yerushalmi. Else-
where in his commentary to the Sheiltos, the Netziv sug-
gests that this dispute between the Bavli and the
Yerushalmi is really a dispute between Tannaim in the Ge-
mara in Nedarim (80b) and that, ultimately, this is the crux
of the dispute cited above between Ben Petura and Rabbi
Akiva. He explains that Ben Petura cannot possibly hold
that the two travelers should split the water if they will
both definitely die that way, since that would be pointless.
Rather, Ben Petura holds that they should both drink and
live another day or two, because, although they wont
reach the town, they may somehow find some more water;
the one who has the water must thus give up some despite
the fact that he will be endangering his own life thereby,
because he is required to do this to save his friend from
certain death. Rabbi Akiva, however, disagrees, and holds
that because chayecha kodmin, one does have to put himself
into potential danger to save someone else.

Regarding the statement of Reish Lakish in the
Yerushalmi, Rav Ovadyah Yosef quotes some who hold
that the Halacha doesnt follow him, but rather follows the
other view quoted there; the Netziv suggests that he was
acting with midas chasidus, a sense of piety not required by
the Halacha. It is worth noting, though, that the Radvaz
(volume 3 siman 625) rules that one need not give up any
limb to save anothers life, although he may do so, but if
one would give up a limb whose absence would endanger
his own life, he is labeled a chasid shoteh, a pious idiot. Rav
Moshe Feinstein (Iggros Moshe, Yoreh Deah, volume 2
siman 174:4) writes that one is not obligated to jeopardize
his own life for sake of saving someone else, but he is per-
mitted to do so if he wishes, unless it is certain that he will
lose his life by so doing. The Aruch HaShulchan
(ChoshenMishpat426:4) points out, though, that although
one indeed need not jeopardize his own life to save an-
other, one shouldnt be excessively careful or overly pro-
tective of his own life if he can save somebody in danger;
the Pischei Teshuvah quotes that one who is may someday
find his life in such danger, a view accepted as well by the
Mishnah Berurah (Orach Chaim 329:19).

Fallow the Leader
Yisroel Loewy
Parshas Behar begins with the famous question of
Rashi:ma inyan Shemitta eitzel Har Sinai, roughly trans-
lated what does Shemitta have to do with Har Sinai? The
question comes from the fact that the Torah introduces the
section about Shemitta by saying Hashem told Moshe on
Har Sinai, saying According to the Toras Kohanim,
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Vol . 18 Issue #23
quoted in the same Rashi, not only were the general con-
cepts of the Mitzvos given on Har Sinai, but all of the details
of those Mitzvos were transmitted as well. Rashi adds that
we learn this from the fact that the Mitzvah of Shemitta,
leaving ones land fallow every seventh year, was said only
at Har Sinai, and is not mentioned again when Moshe re-
peats the laws at the arvos Moav.

Rav Nisson Alpert asked: Why is this so significant?
Does it really matter whether or not the details of the Mitz-
vos were given on Har Sinai versus anywhere else? The Ohr
HaChaim further asks: Why did Hashem choose to show
this through Shemitta as appose to through the many other
Mitzvos in the Torah? Rav Alpert explains that this comes
to teach us that we maintained the same kedusha when hear-
ing the minute details of the Mitzvos as we did when hear-
ing the general concepts.

Rashi in Devarim (6:6) says about the Mitzvos: lo
inlkrasa, they should not be in your eyes like an old de-
cree,rather like a new one which everyone runs to. Rashi
writes regarding our everyday observance of Mitzvos that
we should act upon them with the same enthusiasm as if
they were new to us.

Realistically, how is this done? If one performs the
same Mitzvah, day in and day out, how can he execute it
with the same freshness as when he did itf or the first time?
Rav Alpert says in the name of the Chazon Ish that
if each and every time a person performs a Mitzvah he does
so with the intent of fulfilling it down to the last detail, then
it will be as if it were just commanded of him every time.

This answers the Ohr HaChaims question.
Shemitta occurs once in every seven years and brims with
detailed aspects of its observance. A person does not get
many opportunities to perform this unique Mitzvah, and
will therefore perform it meticulously each time as if it
were new. Other Mitzvos occur more frequentlythis les-
son teaches us that we should treat each and every Mitzvah
like Shemitta, as if we had been waiting six years for it and
will wait another six for it again.

We cannot allow ourselves to become burned out
with regular Mitzvos. The key, as the ChazonIsh points out,
is to study every Mitzvah and perform it down to its minute
May the zechus of all of our meticulously performed
Mitzvos give us the opportunity to perform all the intricate
facets of Shemitta next year in Yerushalayim.

The Nature of Slavery
Yisroel Ben-Porat
There are many famous lines in American history.
One of them is from this weeks Parsha; inscribed on the
Liberty Bell are the words, Proclaim liberty throughout
all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof (Vayikra
25:10). Actually, these words refer not to a revolution,
but to the mitzvah of Yovel (the Jubilee). Every fifty years,
all Jewish servants are automatically freed and return
home to their families. Later in the Parsha, the Torah out-
lines how one should treat his Jewish slave until he is re-
leased at Yovel:

If your brother becomes impoverished and is sold
to you, do not work him like a slave. Like an employee or
a resident he shall be with you For they are My servants
whom I have taken out of the land of Egypt Do not sub-
jugate them to hard labor you shall fear your God. (ibid

Based on this, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (Covenant
& Conversation) develops a fascinating idea about the To-
rahs view on slavery. Slavery is not only wrong an as-
sault on the human condition but also a theological con-
tradiction: The very idea of the sovereignty of God means
that He alone has claim to the service of mankind. Those
who are God's servants may not be slaves to anyone else.

If so, asks Rabbi Sacks, why didnt the Torah abol-
ish slavery completely? True, slaves were allowed to rest
every Shabbos, were set free after six years and, if they
chose to stay longer, were automatically released come
Yovel. They were treated like an employee or a resi-
dent.They were not allowed to perform hard labor. Yet
slavery was not completely banned, which raises the ques-
tion: Why not?

Rabbi Sacks suggests that Hashem wanted us to
come to the conclusion that slavery is inherently wrong
and through free will abolish slavery. To facilitate such
a realization, the Torah changed slavery from an identity
to a temporary circumstance. Nobody is by nature a
slave, and slavery is by nature temporary. Thus, the Torah
dictates that slaves should be treated with the respect due
to a free human being, ensuring that, although slavery
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According to the Sefer HaChinuch, the reason why
the mitzvah of shemitah is designed as a shabbat for the
ground is because this humbles us and forces us to realize
that Hashem provides us with the very land which we work
and depend on for sustenance, forcing us to realize Hashem.
Additionally, Shemitah demands trusting Hashem to pro-
vide us with food even though we refrain from plowing.
However, one could say that even if this is the primary pur-
pose of Shemitah, there is this secondary reason as well.

There is a fault with the very notion that the mitz-
voth are given to directly benefit us in this world. We can-
not explain every mitzvah in the Torah, and therefore we
cannot even possibly hope to anticipate the benefit of per-
forming certain Mitzvot. For instance, as is well known,
there is no satisfactory logical explanation for the Mitzvah of
Parah Adumah; how ash from a burnt red cow mixed with
water can make one pure is beyond human comprehension!
This is a classic example of the many chukim in the Torah. If
it is not possible to say that all mitzvot are solely for our ad-
vantage, perhaps it may be suggested that some mitzvot have
secondary purposes just for this world, while some do not
have any such advantages. Perhaps, this is why the section of
the tochachah, the rebuke, comes on the heels of the section
about the shemitah. The theme of the tochachah makes this
whole issue clear. We must listen to Hashem and do His
mitzvot not because we know that they will directly benefit
us; on the contrary, we must always serve Hashem and per-
form His Mitzvot solely for the sake of serving God, even if
we do benefit from performing them.

could not be abolished overnight, it would eventually be.
And so it happened.

The transient nature of slavery could perhaps ex-
plain a seemingly blatant contradiction within the words
inscribed on the Liberty Bell: Proclaim liberty throughout
the land and to all its inhabitants thereof." If the Torah is
referring to the freedom of slaves, why would it use the
words all its inhabitants, when only some of its inhabi-
tants are going free? The masters and employers were
never slaves. They are not going free.

Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky explains that an
employee is the responsibility of the employer. Indeed, the
Torah is very strict regarding this area of law. Thus, when
the employee returns home, he is not the only one going
free; a great burden is lifted from the shoulders of the em-
ployer. According to the Torah, a slave is an employee; he
is a human being temporarily working for his master.
Therefore, when the shofar blast signals the commence-
ment of Yovel, everybody goes home free.

Is Shemitta Beneficial?
Ben Tzion Zuckier
Parshat Behar begins by talking about the mitzvot of
shemitah and yovel. The Torah states that for six years you
may work the fields and vineyards, and reap the benefits.
But in every seventh year the land shall have a full rest and
you shouldnt sow the field or prune the vineyards. The
prohibitions of the seventh year are specifically against
working the land and not about any other type of rest.
From an agricultural standpoint, if someone plows the land
every year nonstop it is actually harmful to the land and
things will cease to grow, rendering the land barren. This is
discussed in Mishnah Bava Metzia 9:9 with regards to rent-
ing a field from someone. The Mishnah says that if you are
renting a fieldfor fewer than 7 years you may not plant cer-
tain crops because afterwards the soil takes more than a year
to regain its fertility, but if someone rents for more than 7
years this is permitted.

Could it be that the Mitzvah of Shemitah is imple-
mented specifically to counteract this, thereby physically
benefiting our livelihoods? Moreover, the Torah guarantees
that if this commandment of Shemitah is kept, Hashem will
provide us with financial success. It logically makes sense
that the gain which we receive is directly related to leaving
the field empty! Could it really be that this Mitzvah is just
for our fiscal benefit?

Rosh Yeshiva: Rabbi Michael Taubes
Rabbinic Advisor: Rabbi Baruch Pesach Men-
Editors in Chief Emeritus: Philip Meyer and Ori
Editors in Chief: Yehuda Tager and Yisrael
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Distribution Coordinator: Zev Markowitz