6: Article excerpts, Rabbi Simon Glustrom’s “Saving A Life (Pikuach Nefesh),” 1988.
In these excerpts, Rabbi Simon Glustrom explains that saving a life “takes precedence over all the other commandments in Judaism.” (The row of asterisks represents the beginning of a new excerpt from a bit later in the article.)
Suggested activity: Ask students if they know what the concept of “pikuekh nefesh” is (“pikuach nefesh” in Modern Hebrew pronunciation). Read and discuss the excerpt together. Ask students if they can imagine situations in which Jews would have to break commandments to save their own or others’ lives. Ask them how this concept is relevant to the story Roth tells in “Conversion of the Jews”: whose life is at stake, and what commandment would need to be broken to save it?
Source: Rabbi Simon Glustrom, “Saving a Life (Pikuach Nefesh),” MyJewishLearning.com, <https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/saving-a-life-pikuach-nefesh/>, accessed April 10, 2018, reprinted from Glustrom, The Language of Judaism (Northvale, NJ: J. Aronson, Inc., 1988).