Nov 27, 2011

Interesting Psak from Rav Elyashiv: Talking On Cellphone While Driving

An organization that has been working in the Haredi community to raise awareness of road safety went to Rav Elyashiv to ask for a psak. The psak is being publicized as part of the project, in a publication being put out with a compilation of articles written by various people on the topics of road safety.

They asked Rav Elyashiv about a person who talks on his cellphone while driving. Rav Elyashiv supposedly said that such a person is a "rodef"  - someone who is seeking out to kill you. (source: Bechadrei and Mynet)

Normally the halacha in such a case, when a person is deemed to be a rodef, is that you could kill him before he kills you. Granting a driver the status of rodef for talking on his cellphone would mean, by the definition of the granted status, that if you saw a person driving while talking on his cellphone you would be able to shoot him in the head with a gun, for example.

When pressed for further explanation, Rav Elyashiv supposedly explained that the driver does not actually have a din of a rodef, but is very close to being a rodef. Can you "almost" kill him before he almost kills you? It seems the din of rodef is being given only for the sense of drama, so that the seriousness of the matter should be understood, but not for allowing anyone to actually shoot such a person in the head.


  1. i.e. not a serious statement and therefore not a psak. Hakhamim hizaharu bedivireikhem.

  2. I think his intent was perfectly clear, and nobody was going to shoot anybody. Is there any reason for the disrespectful and even condescending nature of the post?

  3. there was no condescension intended.

  4. it was not me who asked about killing such a person - the articles all mention that the questioner asked rav elyashiv himself and he clarified that.

  5. I think it is extremely reasonable to take the daas torah of the godol hador very seriously. If he says rodef he should mean rodef. If he doesn't he should say something else.

  6. Kupas Shel Tzedaka of Vaad RabbonimNovember 27, 2011 4:53 PM

    What if the person speaking on the cellphone is making a donation to Kupat Ha'ir?

  7. It's so very sad that people actually thought they needed a psak for this. This is part of the mental pollution caused by the modern "daas Torah".

    And, or course, even with the Psak people won't listen.


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