What does Jewish law say about Shabbat rescue?

What does Halakha say about Shabbat rescue? Obligatory or only praiseworthy? What to do on Sabbath knowing missing one is no longer alive?

Mordechai Sones,

Rabbi Brachiahu with rescue unit
Rabbi Brachiahu with rescue unit
Police Spokesman

For the first time a workshop was held in the village of Kfar Tapuach in Samaria to clarify the halakhic police response to issues facing rescue units operating throughout the country.

Eleven rescue units operate in Israel from the Golan Heights to Eilat, especially in hiking areas. The units are under the command of the National Rescue Officer of the Israel Police Superintendent David Anconina.

Among questions raised in the meeting: Is there a Jewish obligation to rescue people? Is there a special Torah directive to do so? Are there distinctions between Jews and non-Jews? What is the law when a usually normative person goes missing and apparently wants to end his life? These and dozens more questions were touched upon.

In response to questions posed by volunteers, Police Chief Rabbi Rami Brachyahu elucidated the halakhic basis that can guide all volunteer activities, emphasizing the halakhic difference between voluntary rescue on Shabbat by civilian volunteers and rescue by volunteers within the framework of the Israel Police, which has national responsibility for the peace of all citizens of the State of Israel. This fact has extensive halakhic implications.

The rabbi also shared the halakhic considerations two years ago when he authorized a search for bodies of missing persons in the Sea of ​​Galilee on the seventh day of Passover, as well as the halakhic considerations in operating the rescue unit in the Nahal Tzufit disaster during the Sabbath.

Future meetings to be held
Police Spokesman

This is the first such meeting between the rescuers and Rabbi Brachiahu, and was joined by Judea Samaria District Police Volunteer Branch deputy head Superintendent Guy Gvaral, who said:

"I'm excited there are people who are willing to give work days from their own time, and take upon themselves the responsibility to go out and save people who've fallen into distress. To those who go out to save lives in the name of the State I wish you all great success and thank you all on behalf of the Israel Police and on behalf of the citizens of the State of Israel. Well done!"




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