Re: Dying "al kiddush Hashem"

Gidon Shoshan (
Fri, 28 Feb 1997 10:22:02 +0200 (GMT+0200)

In normal circumstances, when relations between the Jews and gentiles
are peaceful, only the three cardinal transgressions warrant forfeiting
one's life. However, the Gemara in Sanhedrin and Yoma states that when
governmental policies are made prohibiting the observance of the Torah,
even the smallest of mitzvos require dying before transgressing. The
commentaries explain that this includes even many customs.

Certainly, under the Nazi government, such was the case. Halacha
mandated that even the smallest mitzvah be kept in the face of death. My
rebbi, Rabbi Yisroel Djimitrovsky, a noted Jerusalem scholar, has said
several times that, in his opinion, the time period under Soviet
Communist rule was also such a case. There, too, even the smallest
mitzvah would require the ultimate sacrifice.