Kiddush Hashem

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The Three Cardinal Sins


  1. According to the Rambam, one should proclaim "Allahu Akbar" instead of giving his life up, if given the ultimatum, since Islam is not Avodah Zarah.[1] However, the Radbaz considers abandoning or denying foundations of our religion to be Yehareg ve'Al Yaavor, even in private, for the persecutor's own benefit, at a time when there is no decree against Judaism.[2]

Other Mitzvot

Whereas violation of the three cardinal sins constitutes a Chillul Hashem and one must therefore give up his life to avoid it, violation of other Mitzvot does not, unless it means certain criteria, in which, the gravity of the sin is so great that it also warrants giving up one's life.[3]

  1. Based on the narrative of Yehudah and Tamar, Chazal advise one to rather jump into a fiery furnace than humiliate his fellow in public. Some Rishonim take this literally as an additional Mitzvah to sacrifice one's life instead of violating,[4] while others argue Chazal were exaggerating to make a point and did not mean we should take the Halacha literally.[5] Others accept the Gemara as Halacha but qualify it to any embarrassment equivalent to the eteral humiliation of Yehudah from Tamar. Only in such instances must one die rather than embarrass his fellow in public, and, since we are incapable of measuring such embarrassment, we cannot consider such an avenue.[6]
  2. According to some, fabricating or lying about the laws of the Torah outright is also Yehareg ve'Al Ya'avor;[7] although, some disagree[8] Some say that the former is only true if the Halacha is unanimous, but if there is more than one view, one may present the minority opinion and not surrender his life.[9] Some say that the Maharshal only meant it with respect to the Beit Din HaGadol, whose word defines Torah SheBaal Peh.[10]


  1. Even if the ones trying to uproot Jewish practices are the Jews themselves, such as the Reform, the situation would be considered one of Shmad.[11]

In Presence of a Minyan

For the Non-Jew's Benefit

Mitzvot Aseh


  1. According to the Shelah, when sacrificing oneself for Kiddush Hashem, one recites the Beracha "Lekadesh Shemo BaRabbim" - "ברוך אתה יקוק אלוקינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו לקדש שמו ברבים"[12]

Chillul Hashem

  1. The Torah states "You shall not desecrate My Holy Name"[13], and this is counted as one of the 613 mitzvot.[14]


Non Jews

  1. Although Bnei Noach are not obligated in Kiddush Hashem, they are permitted to give up their lives at will in such situations.[15]

Further Reading

  • Yabia Omer vol. 6 Yoreh Deah Siman 13 - "בדין קידושי ה'"


  1. Iggeret HaShmad (also known as Maamar Kiddush Hashem). See Shu"t Sridei Esh vol. 1 Siman 90:2
  2. Shu"t HaRadbaz vol. 4 Siman 92 (1163)
  3. Beit Yosef Yoreh Deah 157:1
  4. Berachot 43b, Tosafot Sotah 10b s.v. Noach Lo who writes that though the list is always of three cardinal sins it only records but is not limited to those sins explicated in the Torah. The Brisker Rav (ad loc) postulates that it could be a Middat Chassidut if not for Tosafot's difficulty seemingly indicating it's a Din. Rabbeinu Yonah (Shaarei Teshuvah 3:139) considers is a subcategory ("Avak") of murder. See Shu"t Minchat Shlomo vol. 1 Siman 7 at length.
  5. Meiri Berachot 43b, Rav Hershel Schachter (Berachot 5778 #85). See also Yabia Omer vol. 6 Yoreh Deah 13:12 and Shu"t Bnei Banim 1:41
  6. He'arot HaGris Elyashiv Berachot 43b. See also Hearot to Ketubot 67b and to Bava Metzia 59a
  7. Yam Shel Shlomo (Bava Kamma 4:9, 38a), quoted by Shu"t Iggerot Moshe (Orach Chaim vol. 2 Siman 51, Even HaEzer vol. 3 Siman 18, Orach Chaim vol. 5 Siman 28:21) and Be'Ikvei HaTzon page 23. See the relevant thread in the Otzar HaChocham forums, where some question if Rav Moshe accepted this LeMaaseh.
  8. Shu"t Yad Eliyahu Siman 48. See ושקר – לשקר לצרכים של הפסדים ורווחים by R' Yehoshua Pfeffer
  9. Shu"t Rabbi Akiva Yosef (Schlesinger, Orach Chaim Siman 50)
  10. Maskil leDavid (Lau, vol. 2 Siman 51)
  11. Shu"t Avnei Nezer Choshen Mishpat 103 writes how abolishing the Minhag of calling up Olim by their names to get an Aliyah would be an application of this din.
  12. Pitchei Teshuva Yoreh Deah 157:6, Shu"t Mimaamakim vol. 2 Siman 4. See also Mi Yodea
  13. (Vayikra 22:32)
  14. Rambam, Sefer Hamitzvot, Negative Commandment #63; Sefer HaChinuch, Parashat Emor, Mitzvah #295
  15. Yabia Omer vol. 6 Yoreh Deah 13:12