Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Stimulus Package and Halakhah

"A person is an essential member of a United States governmental committee dealing with resolving the current economic crisis. Of concern is whether this crisis is deemed a form of pikuach nefesh (danger to life). Would this classification grant such a person the permission to violate the Sabbath, if necessary, in order to extricate oneself or a group of people from financial ruin?"

This question was asked to R. J. Simcha Cohen and his answer was in last week's issue of The Jewish Press (link):

...The above sources appear to sustain the view that an economic meltdown crisis is a form of pikuach nefesh. As usual in such a situation, any action that is a violation of the Sabbath is to be performed ki'le'achar yad, that is, in an irregular manner.

It is vital to note that though a total loss of resources may create a situation of pikuach nefesh, there are major halachic distinctions between cases of life-threatening circumstances and cases of loss of resources...

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