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Summary of the rules

Updated 4/15/2015

Class Notes – Rules We Reviewed (a work in progress)

1.  If someone is tunneling into your home, you can assume that they will be willing to kill you and therefore you can use lethal force against him to protect your life.

2. If your life is in danger (someone is coming to kill you), you can use lethal force to protect yourself.

3. In the case where you can presume that someone means you harm (coming to kill you) and you don’t have a relationship with him, (either relative or personal friend) such that you are sure he means you no harm, you can use deadly force to protect yourself.  You may not use lethal force against someone with whom you have a relationship such that you know that person will not kill you.

4.  Shabbat does not supersede the laws of using lethal force to protect yourself.  You can use lethal force against a tunneler on Shabbat as well as on a weekday.

5.  A tunneler who was a threat, even though he now ceases to be a threat because a wall fell on him on Shabbat, has the status of " a dead man" and is not dug out on Shabbat.  During a weekday, in the same case, we do not have an answer about whether the tunneler must be dug out or should be left.  The gemara can be read either way, to dig him out or to leave him.

6.  You can kill a rodef [tunneler] by any means possible-not limited to the prescribed manner of death.Any one is allowed to use lethal force-not just the homeowner.


Option 1: A רודף is anyone who is threatening someone's life. You can kill a רודף to protect a victim. Intent is irrelevant.
  - a מחתרת is a רודף (we can assume he thought through his actions to the point where he is willing to kill)
  - all the types of thieves listed are also רודפים
  - no warning is necessary to kill a thief who is trespassing on your property

Option B: You need to establish intent before using lethal force. A רודף requires a התראה
  - you can't use lethal force to prevent a child or someone without evil intent from killing someone
  - a מחתרת has a built in warning. All the other types of thieves mentioned need a warning

Option C: When someone has attained the status of רודף, you can kill him without a warning
  - a person whose intent is clear is established as a רודף and can be killed
  -  for a case where there is ambiguity as to the status of the thief, a warning of some kind is necessary to determine whether he is really a threat to your life. This does not need to be a formal warning


There are three cases where you can use lethal force and three where you can't.
The three cases where you can use lethal force must have a human victim and be liable to the death penalty  or kores.
You can only use lethal force to prevent a crime,not after the fact.
If there is a way to save the victim without using lethal force you should do so.

If a thief is found in a courtyard, roof or walled garden, Adina thinks the thief is presumed to be a rodef, but Miriam thinks you can't use lethal force unless the thief shows some threatening behavior. 

You can use lethal force to save a victim from a rape that the punishment by Bais Din is kores or death.
In the case of a capital rape if the victim says don't kill him you do not listen to her.

If you can stop a rodef by using less than lethal force, you should do so.

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