The question assumes, as Rashi writes (Sanhedrin 74), that a fetus is not a “nefesh” relative to a regular person. However, the Rambam (Rotzei’ach 1:9) formulates the din a little differently:
אף זו מצות לא תעשה שלא לחוס על נפש הרודף. לפיכך הורו חכמים שהעוברה שהיא מקשה לילד מותר לחתוך העובר במיעיה. בין בסם בין ביד מפני שהוא כרודף אחריה להורגה. ואם משהוציא ראשו אין נוגעין בו שאין דוחין נפש מפני נפש וזהו טבעו של עולם:
R’ Akiva Eiger on the Mishna already points out that according to the Rambam, the fetus can be killed only because it has the din of a rodef, not because it is not a “nefesh.” R’ Chaim al haRambam works out how the Rambam fits with the gemara, but be that as it may, according to this approach I’m not sure R’ Gestetner’s question gets off the ground. The rodef here was Pharaoh, not the baby, as if not for the special circumstances of Pharaoh's decree, there would have been no danger.
If they were only to kill the boys they presumably needed to wait until it was yotzoh rosho, in which case we say ein dochin..... So I don't understand question.ReplyDelete
I was wondering the same thing, but that's what he assumes...Delete
OTOH, even in the case of "rodeif", the Rambam continues by prohibiting the same act once the head emerged. So even according to the Rambam, the fetus is not quite the same as a "nefesh" of a human being. And the gemara the Rambam is based on (Eiruchin 7a) continues with permitting an abortion for a woman about to be executed, to save her the bloody birth. (And I surmise that the Rambam's "mipenei shehu kerodeif" with the "ke-" in there, as opposed to "mipenei sheyeish lo din rodeif" is significant.)ReplyDelete
But wasn't this a she'as hashemad?
Once the head is out then it is like a full person. It's only pre-birth that there is a distinction. (Tos in Nida holds there is no issur misa for a Jew to do an abortion, but once the baby's head is out and it is born, then that's no longer true.)Delete
The last line of the Rambam is difficult - take a look at the R' Chaim!