Halacha Date: 25 Tevet 5780 January 22 2020
In the previous Halachot, we have discussed the positive Torah commandment for one to make a railing around one’s roof so that no one falls from there.
After explaining this Mitzvah, the Rambam (Chapter 11 of Hilchot Rotze’ach U’Shmirat Nesfesh) adds: “Similarly, it is a Mitzvah to remove any object which poses a danger to one’s life or the life of others and to be extremely cautious from it, as the verse states, ‘Watch yourself and guard your soul.’ If one does not remove this object and leaves this and other objects which pose a danger to others, one has nullified a positive commandment and transgressed the negative commandment of ‘And you shall not put blood in your home.’”
Based on the above Rambam, it is a negative Torah commandment to leave around anything which poses a danger, such as an obtrusive object in one’s yard which may cause others to trip over it and fall or leaving a faulty ladder in one’s house which may cause one who climbs on it to fall, for the Torah commands us not to place anything in our homes or property that can cause death or bodily injury. Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat, Chapter 427, Section 8) rules likewise.
Thus, the great Rishon Le’Zion, Moreinu Hagaon Harav Yitzchak Yosef Shlit”a, writes in his Yalkut Yosef, (Sova Semachot, Volume 2, page 395) that one may not leave an uncovered, live electrical wire in one’s yard, for someone may touch it and, G-d-forbid, be electrocuted. One must likewise take care not to leave a weak or faulty fence standing in one’s yard. We can derive from here that one who has an uncovered electrical outlet in one’s home (when the cover falls off) must cover it immediately so that a child does not touch it and, G-d-forbid, get electrocuted.
Along the same lines, the great Poskim Hagaon Harav Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss zt”l and Hagaon Harav Shmuel Ha’Levi Wosner Shlit”a (quoted by the Yalkut Yosef, ibid, page 396) write that one must take great care while driving one’s car and not drive at dangerous speeds. One must also make sure that the car’s breaks and other integral systems are in working order so that one does not endanger himself or others.
One who parks his car very close to the crosswalk in a way that creates a blind spot for other drivers who will not be able to see the pedestrians crossing and thus endangers them transgresses the prohibition of “And you shall not place blood in your home”; even if no accident results, one has still nullified a positive Torah commandment.
We must point out that based on the above, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l was very much not in favor of those who ride motorcycles that reach very high speeds, for this method of riding is intrinsically dangerous; even when there was a need for one to do so, Maran zt”l would advise people against this at all costs.
Once, some Hatzalah members riding motorcycles came to visit Maran zt”l at his home. When seated at his table, they asked Maran zt”l to speak about the importance of the Mitzvah of saving lives that they were so involved in. Maran zt”l focused most of his talk on the dangers of riding a motorcycle and how important it was to avoid riding them as much as possible. He likewise warned them not to drive at high speeds so that they would not endanger themselves or others while endeavoring to save a life.