The Jewish People’s Love for Humanity

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“And you shall live by them (the commandments)”. This verse is the source for the command known in Hebrew as “Pikuach Nefesh”, saving and preserving life. Throughout the centuries it has been Jewish tradition to override almost every tenet and commandment when human life is at stake. Observant Jews will not hesitate to drive or call an ambulance on the Sabbath (while “desecrating the Sabbath) when there is even a small chance that someone’s life is in danger.
The Talmud states “Whoever saves a single life is compared to one who has saved an entire world.” Thus, in life threatening situations, transgression of Jewish law is allowed in order to save lives.
This type of “overruling” of the law to save life has been practiced in the Jewish community throughout the centuries on a personal level. Today, in the State of Israel, this ruling needs to be adapted for use in the public arena. The Israeli Defense Forces, Jewish staff in Israeli hospitals, the Israeli police and even the Israeli electric company need to take these rules into account and work accordingly.
In the IDF, there are no drills or training on the Sabbath. But if any situation arises where there is even the slightest chance that life may be endangered, the Israeli army does everything it can to save lives even if it is not in accordance with the laws of the Sabbath. In the case of human life being in danger, Jewish law proscribes “desecrate one Sabbath so that many others will be observed”. In other words, to serve God, one needs to be alive. Saving a life, is, in essence, giving a person the chance to continue to serve God.
The importance of human life in Judaism has given way to incredibly sophisticated Israeli life-saving inventions. Moving vehicles, for example, are the cause of many fatal accidents. Israeli scientists and technologists have created “MobileEye”, a tiny digital camera which uses high level technology to warn drivers of possible impending collisions, nearby pedestrians, dangerous lane changing and other life-threatening situations. Another important innovation is FODetect, a sensor system for airport runways. Using optical-radar technology it detects foreign debris and wildlife on the runway so that it can be cleared before causing damage to aircrafts which could lead to loss of life.
Israeli medical innovations are also significant life-saving devices used in countries throughout the world. Novamed, a Jerusalem based diagnostic tech company has created SensAheart with is used in the home or in hospitals to detect oncoming heart attacks. Israeli company, Given Imaging, invented the pill-camera, a small capsule containing a minuscule camera which, when swallowed, allows physicians to discover and diagnose problems throughout the digestive tract.
There is a long list of Israeli life-saving inventions, but, perhaps, most significantly, Israel is always one of the first to send medical and rescue teams to countries who have suffered natural disasters. Whether it be a tsunami in Sri Lanka, a hurricane in New Orleans or on the east coast, a major earthquake in Haiti or Nepal, Israeli governmental and non-governmental agencies are on scene to help save lives.
Israel is a small country sending a big message to the world. Human life is paramount, and we must do everything possible to save lives.
“And you shall live by them” (Leviticus 18:5)

Published: July 3, 2015
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