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Spilling Blood

In Parshat Noach, the Torah introduces us to the Seven Noachide Laws. These laws became the basis for every society to function effectively. It was clear that man without laws, would self destruct primarily because of the influence of the Yeitzer Hara, the evil inclination.

The actual wording of the commandment regarding murder, is fascinating. The beginning of the verse speaks of “spilling the blood of an individual inside another person.” In Hebrew, שופך דם האדם באדם. The obvious case of a person inside another person, would be a woman carrying her child. Many commentators see this as a direct biblical prohibition to perform abortion. This applies to Jews and Gentiles alike.

The end of the verse says that “G-d will seek out the blood of your souls.” The reference here is that we must not do anything harmful to our souls. This prohibits suicide and it even forbids cursing ourselves.

We were given a very precious soul that it is our duty to protect it. We must not take another life, nor are we permitted to take our own life, nor are we permitted to take the life of the fetus that lives inside its mother.

This is why we must not study Torah superficially. If we look more deeply into the text as explained by our great sages, there is so much to learn.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for more than twenty years. He has been teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach, Old Katamon, Jerusalem, for the nearly seventeen years. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles.
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