What is a source of the imperative to live by mitzvot? How do we know that life must take precedence? How do we know that even the possibility of danger is enough to suspend other laws?
The Babylonian Talmud cites this verse here:
Notably, not all commentators agree that Vayikra 18:5 means that life should take precedence over mitzvot. But that's the beauty of Jewish tradition - the value for multiple pluralistic ideas and interpretations.
Rambam's interpretation is closer to that of the Talmud. This text is an interesting one, because it speaks about living by mitzvot in the context of being ordered to either transgress a law or die. How is that context different than one who has a health condition, disability or trauma, who needs to suspend a law so that their life takes precedence? Are the situations similar enough that we can learn from one to another?
Here are several contemporary commentaries:
From Sefaria: "Care of the Critically Ill is a 20th-century work that translates and explains more than a dozen of Rav (“Rabbi”) Moshe Feinstein’s responsa on caring for the critically ill, written by Rav Moshe’s student and son-in-law, Rabbi Moshe Tendler."
This Talmud text adds to our understanding of the Torah verse. Everyone is included in the imperative to live by mitzvot.
The Talmud text below is somewhat challenging. What do you think about it? Should there be any limits to the imperative for life to take precedence? Is preserving life in public the same as doing so in private? In what situations might it be needed or show more dignity to preserve life in a public space and when might it show more dignity to do so privately?