The Bystander's Duty to Rescue in Jewish Law

Journal of Religious Ethics 8 (2):204 - 226 (1980)
Abstract
In Judaism, the bystander's duty to come to the rescue of his fellow-man who is in peril is religious, ethical and legal. A citizen is expected to engage in the act of rescue both personally and with his financial resources. He is required, however, neither to give his life nor to place his life in substantial jeopardy to save his fellow. Moreover, there is no ethical requirement to donate an organ in behalf of another; nevertheless, such an act is today regarded as of especial nobility and piety. Although failure to come to one's neighbor's rescue incurs no criminal sanction, the legal nature of the duty is evidenced by (1) the right of the rescuer to sue for all financial losses incurred as a result of the rescue operation, (2) the rescuer's immunity to liability, and (3) the exemption he enjoys from all positive legal, civil, and ritual duties while he is actively engaged in the rescue operation.
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