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Is it lawful to save the life of a Gentile on Sabbath?

I have been studying Rambam’s Hilchos Melachim, and I am not sure how certain portions of it are applied in today’s world. I was wondering if you could possibly shed some light on this: If a goy requires medical treatment on Shabbos, does the Halacha hold that: a) A Jewish doctor is obliged to treat him, b) A Jewish doctor is forbidden to treating him, or c) A Jewish doctor is permitted to treat him, but may refrain from doing so if he so chooses. I understand there may be other factors involved that may complicate a ruling. Obviously I’m not asking for a specific psak, I just want to understand the general rule here. Thanks a lot.

The rule is that it is not only permissible, but it is commanded, and it is prudent to save the life of anyone, even on Shabbat, if it is within your ability to do so, whether the patient is either a Jew or gentile; and to even hesitate over such a decision on Shabbat, is itself a violation of Shabbat.

Please see the attached deliberation for details.

Israel b. Betzalel

My understanding of Torah is that the ruling would be the same for a Jew, a non-Jew or even a donkey. If treatment would be given to a Jew on Shabbat, it must be given to the non-Jew as well. In fact, if one were to stop to question the religion or ethnicity of the person before treatment he has violated Shabbat. One must not hesitate.



I agree with Yoseph’s post. And per Yeshua we are commanded to do good, which there was no “race” placed on the recipient.

I concurr.

Nevertheless, even Biblical violations of the Sabbath are warranted for non-Jews ‘on account of enmity,’ i.e., if the refusal to render such aid may imperil Jews. This stipulation is explicitly made by R. Moses Schreiber (Chatam Sopher, Yoreh De’ah, no. 131; cited in Pitchel Teshuvah, Yoreh De’ah, 154).

I would counsel that since one never knows if saving the life of a goy could one day save yours, it is prudent to save the life of anyone within your means, even on Shabbat, whether goy or yid – and that this is understood from the Torah when it says “choose life” – without precondition.


I should also mention that the rabbis at concurr:

Rabbi Jacob “jewish law requires that one save the life of anyone.”

It is written “Do not go around spreading slander among your people, but also don’t stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is at stake;” (Lev/Vayikra 19:16)


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One Response to “Is it lawful to save the life of a Gentile on Sabbath?”

  • Uziel Omar says:

    ad4e777 add the passage of Matthew 12:9-14.

    11And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that
    shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day,
    will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?

    12How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful
    to do well on the sabbath days.

    Notice that it says a man (adam) and not a yehudi. I think Rabeno Yeshua is clear on this.

    All of us are sons of Noah. So by the merit of Noah’s rightousness the goy should be saved. Also we dont know if he is a ‘lost sheep of the house of Israel.’

    We shoul see in every one the Image and Likeness of Elohim.