During the terrible 1848 plague in Vilna, Rabbi Israel organized 60 young scholars to help the stricken in every possible way. He instructed them to do whatever was necessary, on the Sabbath too, since the saving of life supersedes even the Sabbath. Rabbi Israel’s disciples carried out their rabbi’s instructions, and chopped wood, made fire and boiled water, on the Sabbath, for the benefit of the sick.
On Yom Kippur the Rabbi urged the people to shorten their prayers, to take walks outside, and to eat. When the congregants refused to eat, Rabbi Israel had food brought to the synagogue, and he and two associates ascended to the bimah, recited the appropriate prayers, and ate. Then the people did likewise. The Rabbi went to all the synagogues in the city, and pleaded with all worshippers to eat for strength to stave off the plague.
One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the time of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread which is only lawful for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”
Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:23-28.)
Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath? To do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” (Mark 3:4.)