Am I a Murderer?


Dear Rabbi,
I’ve been having a problem that’s been troubling me for the past year.
An acquaintance of mine refused to get the COVID vaccine because of political disinformation he received. His family and friends begged him to get it, but he refused. Last year, he caught COVID and died. Had he gotten the vaccine, he probably would have survived or not even gotten it. He was only 44 years old and left behind a wife and children.
He almost certainly got it from me. Several days before he got sick, he and I were at the same gathering. On that day, I was having a slightly runny nose. I did not want to miss the event, and I was in denial it was COVID, and I convinced myself and others it was allergies. My symptoms later worsened and I took a home test and it was positive. At least two people caught it from me, and he was one of them.
From a Jewish moral standpoint, who is at fault for his death? Is it him, for failing to obtain a vaccine that would have prevented his death? Or is it me, who transmitted the disease to him. Does this make him a fool or me a murderer?



  1. No, you are not a murderer. It is possible that you may have been a little irresponsible when you decided to go to the event despite the fact that you were feeling slightly under the weather. But, having said that, there is absolutely no indication that he caught the virus from you alone. I would imagine that there more than a few people that were displaying the same symptoms that you had and he could have caught the virus from any of them. Or, he could have caught the virus from a different place all together.

    And, even if it is possible to prove that he picked up the virus directly from you, even then you would not be considered to be a murderer because you did not transmit the virus to him deliberately. He made his decisions about not taking the vaccine, taking into account that COVID has been the cause of many deaths, and he knew perfectly well that there was a chance it might be the cause of his. It is true that he felt that his chances were better if he didn’t take the vaccine, but he was quite aware that the virus was potentially lethal. That means that his tragic and untimely passing was not your responsibility in any way.

    Best wishes from the Team