5 When a murderer kills willfully, he should not be killed by witnesses or observers until he is brought to court and sentenced to death, as implied by Numbers 35:12 "A murderer should not be put to death until he stands before the congregation in judgment."
This law applies to all those liable for execution by the court, who transgressed and performed the forbidden act. They should not be executed until their trial is completed by the court.
6 When does the above apply? When the person has already transgressed and performed the transgression for which he is liable to be executed by the court. When, however, a person is pursuing a colleague with the intention of killing him - even if the pursuer is a minor - every Jewish person is commanded to attempt to save the person being pursued, even if it is necessary to kill the pursuer.
7 What is implied? If the rodef was warned and continues to pursue his intended victim, even though he did not acknowledge the warning, since he continues his pursuit he should be killed.
If it is possible to save the pursued by damaging one of the limbs of the rodef, one should. Thus, if one can strike him with an arrow, a stone or a sword, and cut off his hand, break his leg, blind him or in another way prevent him from achieving his objective, one should do so.
If there is no way to be precise in one's aim and save the person being pursued without killing the rodef, one should kill him, even though he has not yet killed his victim. This is implied by Deuteronomy 25:11-12, which states: "If a man is fighting with his brother, and the wife of one... grabs the attacker by his private parts, you must cut off her hand; you may not show pity."
8 There is no difference whether she grabs "his private parts" or any other organ that imperils his life. Similarly, the rodef may be a man or a woman. The intent of the verse is that whenever a person intends to strike a colleague with a blow that could kill him, the pursued should be saved by "cutting off the hand" of the rodef. If this cannot be done, the victim should be saved by taking the rodef's life, as the verse continues: "you may not show pity."
9This, indeed, is one of the negative mitzvot - not to take pity on the life of a rodef.
On this basis, our Sages ruled that when complications arise and a pregnant woman cannot give birth, it is permitted to abort the fetus in her womb, whether with a knife or with drugs. For the fetus is considered a rodef of its mother.
If the head of the fetus emerges, it should not be touched, because one life should not be sacrificed for another. Although the mother may die, this is the nature of the world.
10 The laws of a rodef apply whether a person is pursuing a colleague with the intent of killing him, or a maiden that had been consecrated with the intent of raping her, as reflected by Deuteronomy 22:26, which establishes an equation between murder and rape, stating: "Just as when a man arises against his colleague and kills him, so too, is this matter i.e., the rape of a consecrated maiden."
The same principle is reflected by another verse within the passage, which states (Ibid.:27): "The consecrated maiden cried out, but there was no one to save her." Implied is that if there is someone who can save her, he must do so, using all means including taking the life of the pursuer.
11 The same laws apply with regard to any woman forbidden as an ervah, but not to relations with an animal. With regard to homosexual rape, by contrast, one may save a man from being raped by killing the intended rapist.
If one pursues an animal with the intent of sodomizing it, or one seeks to perform a forbidden labor on the Sabbath or to worship idols - although the Sabbath and the prohibition against idol worship are fundamental elements of our faith - the person should not be killed until he commits the transgression and is brought to court, convicted and executed.
12 If a person pursued a woman forbidden as an ervah, took hold of her and inserted the head of his organ within her,he may not be slain, even though he has not concluded sexual relations. He must be brought to court.
If a man was pursuing a woman forbidden as an ervah, and other men were pursuing him to save her, and she tells them, "Let him be, so that he does not kill me," they should not listen to her.Instead, he should be intimidated and prevented from raping her, by maiming his limbs. If he cannot be prevented by maiming his limbs, his life may be taken, as explained above.
13 When a person could prevent a murder or a rape by maiming the rodef's limbs, but did not take the trouble and instead saved the victim by killing the rodef, he is regarded as one who shed blood and is liable for death. Nevertheless, he should not be executed by the court.
14 Whenever a person can save another person's life, but he fails to do so, he transgresses a negative commandment, as Leviticus 19:16 states: "Do not stand idly by while your brother's blood is at stake."
Similarly, this commandment applies when a person sees a colleague drowning at sea or being attacked by robbers or a wild animal, and he can save him himself or can hire others to save him. Similarly, it applies when he hears gentiles or mosrim conspiring to harm a colleague or planning a snare for him, and he does not inform him and notify him of the danger.46
And it applies when a person knows of a gentile or a man of force who has a complaint against a colleague, and he can appease the aggressor on behalf of his colleague, but he fails to do so. And similarly, in all analogous instances, a person who fails to act transgresses the commandment: "Do not stand idly by while your brother's blood is at stake."
15 When a person sees a rodef pursuing a colleague to kill him, or a woman forbidden as an ervah to rape her, and he has the potential to save the victim and yet fails to do so, he has negated the observance of the positive commandment: "You must cut off her hand," and has transgressed two negative commandments: "You may not show pity," and "Do not stand idly by while your brother's blood is at stake."
16 Even though lashes are not given as punishment for the transgression of these prohibitions - because they do not involve committing a forbidden deed - they are nevertheless very severe. For whoever causes the loss of a Jewish soul is considered as if he destroyed the entire world, and whoever saves a Jewish soul is considered as if he saved the entire world.