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Biography of Yehuda Katz | Archives | This Week's Parsha


"You shall not see the donkey of your brother or his ox falling on the road and hide yourself from them, you shall surely stand them up, with him."

Its a mitzvah to help your friend with a heavy load. Similarly, in Exodus 23:5 the Torah extends the Mitzvah to include an enemy in this Mitzvah. At first glance it seems strange that the Torah would predicate a Mitzvah on something which is forbidden, namely to have enemies to begin with. In Levitcus 19:17, it states the following: "You shall not hate your brother in your heart." This clearly prohibits hatred. So how can the Torah have a Mitzvah which hinges on the sin of hatred which is forbidden initially.Firstly, a person is forbidden to hate, and secondly if you see a person burdened under a load, help him. I would like to propose an original answer to this question, Bezrat Hashem. The Torah is teaching us a tremendous lesson. We learn from here that G-d is actively seeking out the sinner. G-d knows that this person has hatred in his heart, yet G-d is providing him with the means to Tshuva (REPENTANCE) by specifically predicating a Mitzvah on hatred. We see from here that G-d is intimately concerned with the sinners welfare, and provides him with the means to rectify his sin. Especially in the month of Ellul (the month before the High Holidays)when one is actively involved in seeking out and rectifying any sins that he may have committed during the past year, a person may often feel a lack of hope when confronted by his many sins.

It can be very disheartening, yet the Torah is informing us that hope still remains because all is not lost. When we see the mitzvah of helping our enemy with his burden, its apparent that G-d has not given up hope in us by providing this very Mitzvah specifically for the sinner that harbors hatred for another by having an enemy. If G-d has not given up in the sinner, why should we give up on ourselves? This very Mitzvah teaches us this very lesson. I would like to elaborate on this concept with an original Moshal (Parable) as follows:There was once a merchant that purchased merchandise to be sold in his store. He loaded up his wagon to the brim with this merchandise with was of exceptional quality so that it can be brought back to his warehouse for storage. Yet along the way he experienced some hardships with his wagon.

One time he had to fix the wheel, another time his horse got lose and ran away. There was much hardship in this particular journey. Finally when he came close to his warehouse, the wagon got stuck in the mud. This merchant was so frustrated that he decided to give up and abandon his wares altogether out of mere frustration, so he left everything and started home. When people saw what was happening, they yelled out to him, "What are you doing? Are you crazy? You have such beautiful merchandise? Are you going to give up now because of a few bumps in the road? Why give up?" The businessman felt kind of foolish, and returned to his wagon. The mitzvah to help our enemy is a wake up call to us ,namely all is not lost for G-d has provided a Mitzvah specifically for the sinner. This means that G-d is actively concerned with his welfare notwithstanding his many sins. Have a good Shabbos


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