Saving a Victim from an Attacker

"You shall cut off her hand; you shall not pity her"Deuteronomy 25:12.

We are commanded to save a potential victim from the hands of one who is "chasing" him to kill him—even if this means killing the attacker. If it is possible to save the victim without killing the pursuer—through injuring the attacker, then that must be done. But if that is not possible, we are commanded to kill the pursuer rather than allow him to execute his dastardly intention.

Sparing an Attacker

"You shall cut off her hand; you shall not pity her"Deuteronomy 25:12.

We are forbidden to have pity on one who is pursuing another to kill him. Instead we are commanded to try to stop the pursuer at all costs, and if the effort to stop him is unsuccessful, and the pursuer persists in acting upon his intentions, we must fight him. If possible, we try to prevent him from killing by amputating one of his limbs, blinding him [etc.], and if the only way to stop him is by killing him, then he must be killed.

The same rule applies to a man pursuing a woman (or man) to rape her (or him).

This only applies while the attacker is pursuing the victim. Once the crime has been perpetrated, the criminal may not be summarily executed, but must be brought to court and tried.

Saving a Person in Mortal Peril

"You shall not stand [idly] by the blood of your neighbor"Leviticus 19:16.

It is forbidden to abstain from offering assistance when perceiving one's fellow in mortal danger, or his property in danger of destruction.

Examples: One who knows how to swim who sees his fellow drowning, must jump into the water to save him; if one becomes aware of a plot against another's life, it is his responsibility to attempt to thwart it; one who has evidence that could support his fellow's monetary claim in court, must come forward and testify.

Designating Cities of Refuge

"Prepare for you the way, and divide the border of the land into three parts"Deuteronomy 19:3.

We are commanded to designate six cities of refuge in the Land of Israel, and prepare unobstructed and direct routes leading to them. These cities provided refuge [against avenging relatives] for individuals guilty of manslaughter.