Jumping from the Tower: Society Response on Ask the Rabbi
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Jumping from the Tower

In the terrible 9-11 terror attack on New York, some people jumped from the burning tower.

On one side was a raging fire with no escape, and on the other side was a jump to near-certain death.

What does Jewish law instruct in a situation like that?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

We are always obligated to do whatever possible to preserve human life, regardless of how slim the chances may be.

Therefore, when there is certain death from flames, and less-certain death from jumping, a person should try to save himself by jumping, and pray that he will land on something cushioned.

Although we generally do not rely on miracles, here the question is which action is the most hopeful amongst two grave alternatives.

Stranger things have happened. Over the years there have been many stories of people surviving falls from upper stories. And the Guinness Book of Records documents the case of a flight attendant who survived a fall of 33,000 feet to the ground.

However, when there is certain death from both sides, one should not do any act to hasten his own death.

(sources: Talmud – Yoma 85b; Avoda Zara 18a; "Igrot Moshe" – Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, C.M. 2:74)

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