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Home -- Content: Series 7 (Laws) -- Translation: English -- Book: 1 (Tora) -- Part: 2 (Negative) -- Prohibition: 293 -- Text
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The Sharia of Moses in the TORA
Part 2 - The 365 Prohibitions of the Tora

293 - SPARING THE LIFE OF A PURSUER


Deuteronomy 25:11-12 -- 11 “If two men fight together, and the wife of one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of the one attacking him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the genitals, 12 then you shall cut off her hand; your eye shall not pity her.”

By this prohibition, we are forbidden to spare the life of a pursuer.* The explanation of this is as follows. The preceding commandment, which forbids the witnesses of a crime to slay the criminal before he is properly convicted by the court, applies only to a case where the perpetrator has already completed the deed for which he is liable to death; but where he is still engaged in trying to commit the crime, he is called “a pursuer”, and we are obliged to hinder and prevent him from carrying out his evil intentions. If he obstinately refuses, we must struggle with him; and if it is possible to prevent him from doing what he intended by depriving him of one of his limbs – for example, by cutting off his hand or his foot, or by blinding him – well and good; but if it is impossible to stop him except by depriving him of life, he must be slain before he can do the deed.

* I.e. a person running after another with intent to commit murder of fornication

The principle, which we have laid down, that a pursuer is to be slain, does not apply to all would-be wrongdoers, but only to one who pursues another with intent to kill him, even if he be a minor;* or with intent to commit a sexual offence within the forbidden degrees, which obviously includes an offence with a male.**

* That is, even if the pursuer be a minor (who is not punishable for any other offence), as is clearly stated by Maimonides (Nezikin, Hilchoth Rotzeach u-Shemirath Nefesh I, 6)
** See Neg. Comm. 350

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