Tuesday, May 08, 2007
kiddush hashem under duress
An interesting Rambam pointed out by R’ Friedman this past Shabbos: In Hil Yesodei haTorah (5:6) the Rambam writes that even where the mitzvah of kiddush Hashem obligates a Jew to give his life rather than violate one of the three cardinal sins of giluy arayot, murder, or idolatry, there is no punishment if one fails to surrender one’s life. The Rambam explains that the sin in all these cases of duress is not done with any willful volition and hence the exemption of ones applies. The Rambam writes shortly thereafter (halacha 9) that this same rule applies to a case where one’s life is in danger from mortal illness – one must surrender one’s life rather than violate any of the three cardinal sins. However, here the Rambam writes that if one violates any of these prohibitions, one is liable for punishment. Question: why does the same exemption of duress (ones) not apply to this case where a prohibition is violated to escape mortal illness? (If you are stumped, start with the Ohr Sameiach for an answer).