Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Kiddush Hashem

The Rishonim's discussion of this halakha gives rise to two possible approaches to the halakha's conceptual basis.  One approach claims that the particular severity of the three cardinal sins does not allow for their cancellation, even by the specter of death. Whereas, generally, the Torah's laws give way to the overriding concern of pikuach nefesh, these three sins are so principal that they obtain even under these extenuating circumstances and cannot be overridden by pikuach nefesh. Alternatively, we might view these aveirot as fundamentally similar to ordinary aveirot, in that extenuating conditions of pikuach nefesh override the aveira proper. However, a separate injunction to sanctify Hashem's name requires the surrender of life even at the cost of death. A person yields his life not because he must avoid the particular aveira - that issur has already been cancelled by the extenuating conditions – but rather to perform the mitzva of glorifying Hashem's name by publicizing our love for Him and our willingness to prioritize that love over our own lives.

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