Resisting Persecutions and Crises
During a time of crisis for the Jewish faith—for example, if a government or any other power wants to force Jews not to be religious—every prohibition in Jewish law becomes yehareg ve'al ya\'avor, and one is to have mesirat nefesh on every negative or positive commandment even when not in public. This is called "Sandal straps", and refers to the traditional Jewish manner of putting on footwear (Put on right, put on left, tie left, tie right). In this situation, one must die even for "Sandal straps".
However, if a government or any other power is not opposing the Jewish religion in itself, but rather any religion, such as in Russia under the communist regime, then according to some opinions, the above does not apply.
It is also considered a crisis for the Jewish faith when a particular requirement within Jewish law is in danger of being outlawed by a government or other power.
There is a further qualification: Only the negative commandments could potentially be considered a matter of yehareg v'al ya'avor; one would never be required to sacrifice himself for one of the positive commandments. Since refraining from the performance of a positive commandment involves no specific action, to do so would not be considered a desecration of God's name, so self-sacrifice would never be required.
According to Maimonides, in a situation where one is not required to sacrifice himself rather than transgress, to do so would be considered suicide, which is strongly forbidden and condemned under Jewish law.
Following through and sacrificing one's life in accordance with the law of yehareg ve'al ya'avor is considered to be Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of God's name).
Famous quotes containing the words crises, resisting and/or persecutions:
“I am not fooling myself with dreams of immortality, know how relative all literature is, dont have any faith in mankind, derive enjoyment from too few things. Sometimes these crises give birth to something worth while, sometimes they simply plunge one deeper into depression, but, of course, it is all part of the same thing.”
—Stefan Zweig (18811942)
“Some are petitioning the State to dissolve the Union, to disregard the requisitions of the President. Why do they not dissolve it themselves,the union between themselves and the State,and refuse to pay their quota into its treasury? Do not they stand in the same relation to the State that the State does to the Union? And have not the same reasons prevented the State from resisting the Union which have prevented them from resisting the State?”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)
“... so far from entrenching human conduct within the gentle barriers of peace and love, religion has ever been, and now is, the deepest source of contentions, wars, persecutions for conscience sake, angry words, angry feelings, backbitings, slanders, suspicions, false judgments, evil interpretations, unwise, unjust, injurious, inconsistent actions.”
—Frances Wright (17951852)