Is Caring for Others More Important Than God’s Law in the Torah?

In Jewish law, there is a fundamental principle called Pikuach Nefesh (פקוח נפש) that unequivocally prioritizes the preservation of human life above all other religious principles in Judaism. When a person’s life is at risk, it becomes crucial to prioritize survival above all else. If certain mitzvot, including those within the Ten Commandments, hinder one’s ability to save oneself or others, those mitzvot are considered inapplicable.

Leviticus 18:5 states simply: “You shall keep My statutes and My laws, which a person shall do and shall live by them. I am the LORD.” and we find in Ezekiel 20:11 that God says He “…gave them my statutes, and showed them my judgements, which if a man do, he shall even live in them.”

We can observe the connection between these verses by examining the rabbinic commentary found within the Talmud (Yoma 85b). In this discussion, Samuel of Nehardea determines that these verses imply the following: “Live by God’s statutes and laws, and do not perish because of them.”

However, there are four laws that must not be broken under any circumstance: the laws prohibiting murder, idolatry, incest, and adultery. Breaking these laws would be sanctioning an act of self-sacrifice.

When followers of Jesus examine the principle of Pikuach Nefesh, they can see a clear alignment with the teachings of Jesus during His time on Earth. I firmly believe that Jewish believers who are aware of this principle should consider it an additional motivation to share the gospel with those who have not been presented with it in a culturally relevant way. This is the principle Jesus was pointing towards when He healed on Shabbat and was accused of breaking the Torah. Thus, I think it should be an even stronger motivator in our lives.

People who serve as soldiers, firefighters, and first responders understand that unexpected situations can occur at any moment, but it is important for all of us to acknowledge that everyone is dying. Therefore, we should be determined to do whatever it takes to save souls from damnation. Let us be willing to go to great lengths to save the lives of those who are slipping into an eternal darkness.

I am a Messianic Jewish believer that felt the tug of the L-rd towards the unreached. I decided I would go to China. My love for the Chinese people grew while I was there, but when I learned of the Back to Jerusalem movement, I knew the L-rd wanted me to be proclaiming His gospel message to the unreached people between China and Jerusalem. Let’s unite and complete the great commission. We need to accept the challenge Jesus has given us so that we can feel the exhilaration of victory.

One Comment

  1. Jean

    May God bless your every single step and guide you when you try to follow Jesus our Messiah.


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