Piku’ach Nefesh – Save Lives
“Neither shall you stand by the blood of your neighbor…”
The Talmud and rabbis through the centuries understood this verse to mean that a person must do everything possible to save another’s life. For most of us, this means:
Sign up to be a blood or bone marrow donor
Make sure fire alarms are in working order and purchase fire extinguishers
Report suspicious persons
Make sure pathways are clear so people won’t trip
Drive carefully and don’t text and drive!
At Congregation Emeth, we have another way for you to perform this important mitzvah. At its July meeting, the Board of Directors unanimously agreed that Emeth would be “Nut Free” at all events at the temple, as well as any event sponsored by the congregation, even if it takes place at someone’s home or the park, to accommodate those with life threatening nut allergies. (We are not making guarantees, but we hope everyone will heed this policy and be conscious of what you are bringing into the temple, even for your own personal use.)
Personally I had little understanding how my eating nuts caused a life threatening situation for someone else whose food might not contain nuts. I confess to being confused and often (on an airplane for example) unsympathetic because of my ignorance.
Here’s what I’ve learned: Nut allergies can cause a severe, potentially fatal, allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). The only way to prevent a reaction is strictly avoiding nuts and nut products. Tree nuts include walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios and more. In addition, peanuts though they are technically a legume and not nuts. There is a real danger of cross contamination also, which is why we are attempting to make our events nut free. We know we have congregants, including precious children, for whom this applies!
We will soon be removing all nuts from our kitchen. (Yes, my candy stash will be emptied of nuts too!) When you bring food contributions to potlucks, please be conscious about avoiding peanuts and nuts, including nut oils, and other contagions. This is the real meaning of pikuach nefesh, saving a life.
Now, think of this and other things you can be doing to observe this mitzvah of the week!
Have a wonderful week of blessings and a Shabbat of peace.
Rabbi Debbie Israel