Photo: Gil Yohanan
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Thou shall not kill

Rabbi Aviner says reckless driving which results in loss of innocent lives is outright murder

Drivers – thou shall not kill. It is known that according to the Torah, even he who kills by accident is a murderer (Numbers 35). Those who drive recklessly and break the traffic laws are breaching the Guard Yourself ordinations ("Guard yourself and guard your soul very carefully," Deuteronomy 4:9-10).


The perils of reckless driving are hardly trivial. Hundreds of people are killed in road accidents every year, and the total is about four times higher than all those killed in all the wars since the Return to Zion and in the war on terror. Add to that the 20,000 people who are severely injured in road accidents every year – injured in a way which no longer lets them lead a normal life and you have Israel's No. 1 enemy.


The truth must be told: He who speeds or crossed a no-passing zone, is guilty not only of erring but of near-malice. To err in this respect is grave as it is; but to err in near-malice is to exercise depraved indifference to human lives.


He who kills by accident is too a murderer, for committing a crime of omission and therefore can be killed by that avenger of blood ("The avenger of blood shall put the murderer to death; when he meets him, he shall put him to death," Numbers 35:19).


Fear the consequences

A cruel punishment, you say? Indeed. The lack of aggressive treatment of reckless drivers is cruel to their innocent victims. If we were still practicing blood vengeance and reckless drivers knew their lives were hanging in the balance, we would be assured that everyone would obey the law, for fear of the consequences.


A reckless driver who kills is also subject to Din Rodef ("law of the pursuer") – an extrajudicial killing. That does not mean in any way that anyone speeding must be shot, but they should have their licenses revoked, made to pay a huge fine and be jailed immediately. The latter should apply not only to drivers who kill, but to those who drive recklessly in general – for the fact that they had not taken a life is by the grace of God alone.


Perhaps we should have anyone caught breaking traffic laws spend a mandatory fortnight in the Loewenstein Rehabilitation Center, so they could see the victims for themselves.


Remember, when you get in your car you have a chance to observe many mitzvot – Guard Yourself and Love Thy Neighbor are just two of them.


Rabbi Shlomo Aviner is the head of Ateret Cohanim Yeshiva in Jerusalem 


פרסום ראשון: 09.10.08, 17:36
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