P’sak from Maran Rav Elyashiv: One Who Talks On Cell Phone While Driving May Have Din of Rodef


rav-yosef-shalom-elyashivAn organization that has been working in the frum community to raise awareness of road safety went to Maran Rabbon Shel Kol Bnei Hagolah Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv to ask for a p’sak. The p’sak 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.

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 reportedly explained that the driver does not actually have a din of a rodef, but is very close to being a rodef.

{Life in Israel/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. HUH?? Headline says “has din of Rodef” and article clearly states that he specifically did NOT say that he is a rodef, but that maybe he is close to being a rodef. C’mon.

  2. 1) the headline is misleading, he isn’t a rodef – at most he’s like a rodef. What does that even mean? What are the practical ramifications of being “like a rodef”, can you even have a psak like this that seems to be devoid of any actual, halachik or otherwise ramifications?
    2) “Rav Elyashiv supposedly said that such a person is a “rodef” — SUPPOSEDLY — hello – did he or did he not say what was attributed to him in the headline??
    3) there is no context to the psak — you can’t have a psak halacha without context – that’s why shailos and teshuvos seforim publish the shailah, and provide the give-and-take of the posek – otherwise why not just give the headlines?

  3. Does this mean one could / should call the police and give a description, location and tag number, even if the driver is a Yid?

  4. I presume that the writer of the article knows that he wrote “that the driver does not actually have a din of a rodef, but is very close to being a rodef”.

    So why write the wrong title?

    Title should read as follows:
    P’sak from Maran Rav Elyashiv: One Who Talks On Cell Phone While Driving, Near Din of Rodef

  5. Can someeone please explain to me why we would even need a p’sak against talking on the cell phone while driving? There have been probably hundred or maybe more people killed because of texting or talking on a cell phone. There is a state law forbidding talking on a cell phone, and a very steep fine if caught on the phone while driving. Shouldn’t THAT be enough?

  6. I think the confusion here has to do with the type of cell phone. If it is an unfiltered smart phone then the person has a definite din rodef and must be reported to the police IF and only IF there is “Raglayim L’dovor”. Keep in mind that many people today “disguise” their cellphones as kosher ones for shidduch purposes. These “conversion kits” are available all over online.

  7. Forget about the poor headline for a second. Methinks it’s far worse than a bad headline. Can we please only report what HaRav Elyashiv, sh’lita, said if we know what was asked.

    In the good ol’ days, there were these things called s’farim where there would be things called shailos/t’shuvos, where we could know what was asked.

    This may be worse than totally useless. This can lead to people now saying that Rav Elyashiv said something more (or less) than he did say.

  8. All things in moderation. The calling is to use your judgement. The absolutism of one thing is absolutely death or evil is just illogical thinking. Use of course your best judgement and assert your abilities as the traffic and expience allows. Don’t be an imbecule and carry on a useless conversation in your vehicle either. Just the direct needs that are essential.

  9. The one and only way you can rely on Reb Elyashev psakim, or any other quote from him, is if you heard it from his mouth yourself – provided you also heard the question, or if it is in print in Reb Elyashev’s own seforim. Not ‘I heard’ or ‘I spoke with him’ etc. Otherwise all those so called psakim is to be assumed altered with.

  10. to anon, post #9, talking on a cell phone is not against state law. Only handheld cell phones is agains the law. TAlkling with a handsfree cell phone is not against the law. Did the Rav distinguish between handheldor hands free?