Beit Midrash

  • Family and Society
  • Making a Living
To dedicate this lesson



Rabbi Daniel Kirsch

Tevet 24 5781
Phillippe glanced at the framed diploma on the wall. It was good to know that the person who would shortly be filling his cavity was certified to practice dentistry. He turned his attention to a magazine lying on the waiting room table.
As Phillippe flipped through the magazine, an article caught his attention. Two skyscrapers. Almost identical in height. It would take a good number of years to build them, but they would be the tallest buildings in the world.
Phillippe found himself mesmerized. He had to get to the Twin Towers. No matter that he was in Paris and the towers were to be built in New York. The as-yet nonexistent towers were calling him. And, as an experienced high-wire artist, Phillippe knew exactly what kind of encounter he needed to have with those towers.
It was no simple matter to bring his dream to fruition. A core team of dedicated assistants helped him with the planning. Phillippe flew to New York several times. He carefully studied the towers, their heights, their layout, the degree to which they swayed with the wind. He created fake identification badges, so that he and his crew would be allowed access to the roof, in the guise of contractors. He even rented a helicopter so he could get an aerial view of the towers.
After six years of planning, on August 6, 1974, Phillippe Petit accomplished the impossible. At 7:00 am, he sauntered out onto the cable that he and his team had suspended between the two buildings, 1,350 feet above the ground. In the course of forty-five minutes, he walked between the buildings eight times. As crowds gathered to watch the spectacle, Phillippe walked, danced, lay down, and even knelt to salute the crowd.
Phillippe’s Twin Towers stunt gained him world renown. He went on to give many other aerial performances, wrote a number of books, and continues to give lectures.
From a Torah perspective, is it permitted for a person to endanger himself in such a manner, in order to earn a livelihood?
Answer of Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, shlita:
A person is permitted to endanger himself to an extent, in order to earn a livelihood. (See Gemara Bava Metzia, 112a) Therefore, it was permitted for merchants to travel by ship, despite the danger involved. Similarly, it is permitted for window washers to be suspended by cables, in order to wash the windows of skyscrapers (assuming that all proper precautions are taken).
However, there is no halachic allowance to walk on a cable between the Twin Towers or other similar buildings, because it involves extreme danger for no practical benefit.
It seems that even a gentile is forbidden to endanger himself in such a manner. Just as a non-Jew is forbidden from taking his own life (see Bereishis 9:6), he is also obligated to refrain from endangering his life.
In summary:According to Torah law, it is forbidden to engage in dangerous acts such as this. There is no allowance even for the purpose of earning a living, and all the more so if it is not for financial gain.

את המידע הדפסתי באמצעות אתר