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Home :: Seven Laws :: Fourth Law is No Bloodshed

Fourth Law is No Bloodshed

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A murderer is considered to be the one who deliberately took life from another person, that also means the one who killed a fetus in mother's womb (abortion), the one who killed a fatal case person (euthanasia), the one who bound and threw somebody to animals for laceration, the one who starved somebody to death - if he is a direct reason of somebody's death, he is considered to be a murderer. The same when one person chased another to murder him - if a chased one or somebody else (for instance, a policeman) could stop the chaser by crippling, for example shooting him at leg or injuring him in shoulder, but didn't do that and killed him right away - according to Tora law he is considered to be a murderer.

The murder of human is considered to be destruction of the entire world. The one who sheds blood disfigures Shechina (G-d's presence - Biblical language translation). Coz as far as somebody murders the human created after G-d's image and likeness, he strikes a blow to G-d Himself by that. The blood of man, who was violently taken life from, won't calm down until it is revenged, and its protest has an effect on the entire universe. It is known when Cain killed his brother Abel, Hashem reproached him: "You shed not just his blood, but the blood of coming generations. The blood of his unborn children appeals to Me, and will appeal until the end of all generations comes."

The sin of bloodshed is so much terrible it requires the severe punishment even if it's committed unintentionally. Coz even non-deliberate murder is caused by some impurity in murderer's soul. There never are those suffered occasionally, each misfortune happens in accordance with G-d's providence by reasons only G-d is aware of. The disaster uccurred usually expiates the crime committed by victim some time before. Moreover, as Talmud witnesses, it indicates that criminal himself has predisposition to such atrocity (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Makkot 10b):

"Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish started the topic next way (Shemot 21:13): But one who did not stalk, but G-d brought it about into his hand. (Shmuel I, 24:13): As the ancient proverb says: from villains comes atrocity. Whom does Scripture speak of (but G-d brought it about into his hand - RASHI's comment)? About two persons committed a murder. One of them acted unintentionally, the other - intentionally. But there were witnesses neither as for first murder nor as for second one. The Holy, blessed is He, brings them together at the inn. One of them - he who murdered intentionally - sits under the stairs. And the one who killed unintentionally goes downstairs, and falling onto him, kills him (but with witnesses present - RASHI's comment)."

The criminal, who acted with intent, perishes and thus is given with the punishment he deserved for his crime. The man committed non-deliberate murder also gets deserved punishment: the witnesses give evidence against him, but the court justifies him.

From here it's seen that Heaven's punishment to murderer is that he will be murdered by somebody else, as it's written (Bereshit 9:6): "One who sheds the blood of man, in man shall his blood be shed." And from the same phrase No Bloodshed Law follows. However such peculiarities as prohibition of abortion and prohibition to murder a chaser follow from the very Tora. Let's consider them in details.

The prohibition of abortion. It follows from the same phrase No Bloodshed follows from. Coz if one read it a little bit differently, with different punctuation marks - it will endow the phrase with additional meaning. And here is how the Sages reasoned (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 57b):

"Rabbi Ishmael said - for fetus as well (if one hit pregnant woman and that led to miscarriage, he is to be sentenced to the death penalty for No Bloodshed Law infringement - RASHI's comment). What was rabbi Ishmael based on? Since it's written (Bereshit 9:6): One who sheds the blood of man in man, shall his blood be shed. Whom does man which is in man mean? He said - that is fetus in mother's womb."

The prohibition of euthanasia. A fatal case person is considered to be the one who goes through ordeal sent by G-d by reasons only He is aware of. Yes, it can be dreadful, even unbearably painful, but only Creator may decide when, how and, the main thing is, what it ends with. That's why any deliberate murder of such person is considered to be the violation of G-d's will. And he who does euthanasia - commits deliberate murder according to all points of view, bringing the death sentence of Heavens upon himself.

The prohibition to throw human to beasts for tearing. As according to the direct meaning of the phrase, as the inadmissibleness to organize various entertainment shows that can lead to the bloodshed and loss of human life, G-d forbid. That is gladiator's fights, knight's tournaments and the like. Here can be find both the prohibition of tortures and, in general, the prohibition to cause any physical pain to human, except it's justified by some higher goal, like surgical intervention to save one's health or save one's life.

The prohibition to starve human to death. It's understood the question is about some one who was in full dependence on somebody. Still, the beggar who's asking for alms at crowded place in the center of the city - he as if depends on surrounding and he might enter this particular category if absolutely no one gives him anything. That's why you should always give alms if you go past people asking for them, so that you wouldn't become involved as for their death.

The prohibition to murder Rodef (a chaser pursuing somebody with the purpose to murder him - Biblical language translation). It has nothing to do with humanism. This is clear Tora's prohibition, coz Tora prohibits murder in general, including even murder of person who himself wants to murder somebody and chases him, and you, for instance, are present by that and are able to save the chased one by murdering the chasing one. Or the chased person himself can try to save his life by that. What to do then? How to save oneself without infringing upon No Bloodshed Law? It's written in Talmud (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 57a):

"Rabbi Yonatan ben Shaul says: the one who chases his neighbor to murder him, and he can save him at the expense of one of his organs (the chased person can save him at the expense of one of organs of the chasing person, for example, chopping off his leg - RASHI's comment), and didn't save (but murdered right away - RASHI's comment) - is it be sentenced to the death penalty for him."

That is Tora says one must act in the situation like that and immediately, if able to, but it's necessary to first try to neutralize villain only by wounding, and only after, if that didn't stop him - to kill. And this is what should be especially taken care about by those working in force bodies, like Police, Special Forces etc. Coz this is very common situation, and for one whose job is life-risky, it's better not to bring death sentence of Heavens upon himself - its putting into execution costs life.

Then what about wars, you ask? A good and a very practical question. According to hystorical summary for last three thousand years our world spent without armed conflicts... How do you think, how many? Something about twenty years. And what to do if one must kill or is killed? Authoritative rabbis adduce the following answer for the question. The matter is there had to be no wars at all between Noah Descendants. All wars happened and happen between wicked pagans, some of which were more righteous, some - less. It's understood people breaking principal No Idolatry Law were not really careful about observing other Laws, including No Bloodshed Law. Besides, we already noted that wars between the peoples happen coz of their repeated infringement upon Seven Laws. G-d as if clashes all those deserved death sentence of Heavens with sword, and thus they all die "of sword". But if you are exemplary Noahide and somehow appeared to be at the centre of military fight, then you should be aware No Bloodshed Law is valid both at war. In other words, you should, within the limits of the possible, aspire only to wound the enemy, and only in case there's no other way to neutralize attacking part - it's killed.

The prohibition of suicide. It always stays aloof. However, according to Tora's law, the suicide is considered to be the particular case of No Bloodshed. The only difference is human kills not somebody but himself. It's known from Bible Heavens judge such person the same way They judges any other murderer. Coz he has no right to dispose of his life the same way he has no right to dispose of somebody's else life. That's why he is going to be called up to answer for shedding his own blood. And RAMBAM writes ("Mishne Tora" Religious Code, Laws of Mourning 1:11):

"Ceremonial burial is not organized, the mourning is not observed and commemoration is not held for deliberate suicide. However the condolence is accepted both at the moment of burial and at home, and everything what is be called respect to those living is done. Who is considered to be deliberate suicide? Not he who went up to roof, fell and died. But he who declared: Here I go up to roof! And there are witnesses who saw him going up to roof in anger or in despair, and after that he fell and died - such person is most probably deliberate suicide. But he who was found strangled or hanged on the tree and he who was found murdered with his own sword at breast - those are treated like regular deads, burial ceremony is organized for them and they are deprived of no element of respect to those died."

And it's understood the one who murdered intentionally at any of over-mentioned and all the like categories is to be sentenced to the death penalty. But how Rotzeah (non-deliberate murder - Biblical language translation) is treated?

RAMBAM explains ("Mishne Tora" Religious Code, Laws of Kings and Their Wars 10:1):

"Noah Descendant who infringed upon one of Seven Laws unintentionally is free of punishment. Except for non-deliberate murder - the blood revenger may kill him and he's not executed for that. [...] But court does not execute non-deliberate murder."

The translation of Goel Hadam (blood revenger - Biblical language translation) word combination doesn't give the right understanding about its meaning. Not victim's relative who's craving after retribution is meant here but the blood of murdered person itself. Talmud says if there's no blood revenger for some person, then, according to Tora's law, the court must appoint the one (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 45b). The revenger is given with special permission to kill man who committed non-deliberate murder. Such permission was much more effective than the entire police detachment, coz fear for his own life made unintentional murderer regrasp its meaning, commit sincere repentance sooner or later and get rid of his soul's impurity.

By the way, No Bloodshed also means the prohibition to sentence non-guilty person to death (refers to judges) and prohibition to commit indirect murder - giving false evidence, doing a favour that will lead to somebody's death, or keeping secret that can save human from death if being revealed.

Besides, according to Kabbala - a book, explaining world creation secrets - the prohibition of secrets - the prohibition of Zera Levatala (sperm eruption in vain - Biblical language translation) refers to here as well. It's written (Bereshit 2:18): "It is not good that man is alone". The sin is mentioned in the story about two sons of Yehuda, son of Yaakov, who were mortified by G-d for they deviated from child-bearing this way (Bereshit 38:2-10). Tora doesn't make difference between automanipulation and using of contraceptives (read here for more details). Both in first and in second and in all other cases like those, a person causes a great harm to his soul and that is reflected both on him and his well-being and his family. Sages note that one who infringes upon this prohibition makes himself outcast and loses his fortune. The Scripture speaks about that (Yeshayahu 1:15): "And when you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you, even when you pray at length, I do not hear, your hands are full of blood" - these redoubtable words of Hashem are addressed to those erupting their sperm in vain, and they are likened to real "murderers".

And there's one more category - the prohibition to "murder" somebody with the help of one's tongue or shaming in public. Such actions are equated to murder. And though there's no death penalty for them, G-dfearing man will do his best to avoid them. One should be careful not even to confuse somebody the way he turns red or pale - it's also kind of murder.

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