Tuesday, December 29, 2009

paradoxical minchas chinuch: safeik pikuach nefesh in the case of a rodef

The Minchas Chinuch has what sounds to me like a paradoxical chiddush with respect to the mitzvah of saving a nirdaf from his attacker (#600). The halacha is ain holchin b’pikuach nefesh achar harov. For example, even if the majority of a city is not-Jewish (and m’dina d’gemara one cannot be machelel Shabbos for a goy), if there is any doubt as to identity of someone who needs help, one should be mechalel Shabbos on their behalf and not assume based on rov that they are a goy. Similarly, the mitzvah of saving the nirdaf only applies if he is Jewish, but, writes the Minchas Chinuch, if there is any doubt, even if the majority of the city is not-Jewish, ain holchin b’pikuach nefesh achar harov and one can do whatever is necessary to stop the rodef, even killing him.

Why does this make sense? True, in a case of safeik, even if there is a rov, we act to preserve life, but in this case we are sparing the life of the nirdaf at the potential cost of killing his attacker, the rodef. Why would we not invoke the safeik/rov and argue to spare the life of the rodef on that basis? And even if it is inevitable that one of the two will die, shev v’al ta’aseh adif, what gives the onlooker the right to interfere in a situation of safeik in a way that will cost a life?

23 comments:

  1. If you say ein holchin bedinei nefashos achar ha'rov that should mean that we are left with a safek.

    If safek nephashos definitely has the din of vechai bahem then we should apply the same din as vadai nephashos to safek nephasos?

    pc :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Daas Yochid1:31 AM

    Surely, in the case of the rodef/nirdaf, this is not a sofek hashokul, since we see one person trying to harm another. If that's the case, there is more reason to save the nirdaf than the rodef.

    ReplyDelete
  3. PC, not sure what you mean.

    D.Y., there is no safeik that the rodef wants to kill the nirdaf, but there is a safeik whether you are allowed to intervene because the nirday may be a goy.

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  4. When we say that you do not go after rov lichorah what that means is that you are left with a safek - it is indeterminate.

    When we say that you can be mechallel shabbos for a safek pikuach nephesh, do we mean that you can be mechallel shabbos on the tzad that it is pikuach nephesh or do we we mean that a situation can have a din of a safek pikuach nephesh and that for safek pikuach nephesh you can be mechallel shabbos.

    Lichorah the latter becuase even if it definitely turns out that there was not pikuach nephesh the people who were mechallel shabbos still receive a mitzva.

    Therefore we are not dan on each tzad of the pikuach nephesh, rather a matzav of safek pikuach nephesh has a din of vechai bahem and the same halachos as a case of vadai pikuach nephesh.

    pc :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. chaim b.8:47 PM

    I like the chakira -- do you have a nafka mina?

    ReplyDelete
  6. If a safek pikuach nephesh has the din of pikuach nephesh then you can kill the rodef as in the case of vadai pikuach nephesh.

    The mechanism of the halacha determines that the rodef should be killed.

    Reb Elchonon hy"d asks an interesting question:
    Haba be'machteres neherag al shem sofo - someone breaks into my house - I will stand up for my money and he will kill me. So I can kill him pre-emptively.

    Asks Reb Elchonon - since when is there a chiyuv misah for momonos???

    Let him take the money - then he won't kill you. So you won't need to kill him. How can you create a situation where he will be killed becuase you want to protect your money?

    Ela mai - you see this is not how the halacha works. Reb Elchonon explains that the outcome of an action has nothing to do with determining the appropriateness of the action.

    I am entitled to stand up for my money - end of story. What happens as the result of that is not my problem.

    Same here, the rodef has put himself in a situtation where the din of rodef is applied to him. Ay, maybe the nirdaf is a goy? Tough, that's not the halacha.

    pc :-)

    ReplyDelete
  7. >>>If a safek pikuach nephesh has the din of pikuach nephesh then you can kill the rodef as in the case of vadai pikuach nephesh.

    But why not say the opposite -- safeik pikuach nefesh has the status of vaday and therefore you cannot harm the rodef, who stands to lose his life if you act.

    ReplyDelete
  8. There is no din of ibud nephesh on the din of matzilin oisoi benaphshoi.

    Once the din of metzilin oisoi benaphshoi applies the life of the rodef is forfeit.

    pc :-)

    ReplyDelete
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