click here to jump to start of article
  • Torah Reading: Naso
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

Whose Blood Is Redder?

I recently read that one person may not take another's life to save his own (other than in self-defense), because we can't judge another person, and can't possibly know which of the two is more precious to God. Could you please send me the source for this idea?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

This issue is discussed in the Talmud – Yoma 82b.

There, the Sages explore situations in which a Jew's life is in danger. For example, let's say that a terrorist says, "Kill that person, or I will kill you."

The law is that one must allow himself to be killed rather than kill the other person. The reason is derived from logic, which is "How can you judge between your life and his? Perhaps he is worthier than you!" Even in the case where a great leader is told to kill a lowly person, they cannot do it. Because the lowly person may have secretly performed great deeds, or they may have overcome greater struggles in life.

In the language of the Talmud, "Perhaps his blood is redder." Since it is impossible to know who is better, one has to let the circumstances play out without killing the other person.

More Questions

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.