Self-sacrifice in Jewish Law - The Requirement of Self-sacrifice - Additional Situations - Resisting Persecutions and Crises

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).

Read more about this topic:  Self-sacrifice In Jewish Law, The Requirement of Self-sacrifice, Additional Situations

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