by Rabbi Dovid Green
The Torah exhorts us in this week's parsha with many commandments to give aid
even to people we hate. "When you see the donkey of someone you hate lying
under its burden...you must make every effort to help him" (Exodus 23:5).
The great Chofetz Chaim, of blessed memory, writes that even though the
owner of the donkey is a person of evil deeds who gives us a very good
reason to hate him, we are nevertheless commanded to help him. The Chofetz
Chaim writes that this applies even if the donkey is carrying something not
particularly crucial. Building on this, if the owner was a friend whose
donkey was carrying relief packages to a war-torn city, how much more so we
would have to help.
Taking the next step, what if the donkey was carrying badly needed
life-saving medicines or oxygen? How great would the obligation be to help?
What if the "beast of burden" lying under the load of life-saving medical
suppies was a person, and not an animal? Certainly we would not question the
need to help in every way possible.
The Chofetz Chaim concludes that it is certain, then, that when the person
"laying under his load" is someone whose responsibility is to provide for
people who learn Torah, how great the obligation is to help in every way.
The Torah states "because it (The Torah) is your life." Torah is the
spiritual sustenance for our souls. Without it we have no life. We must view
those who learn it as those who are bringing life, blessing, and favor to
the world. May we merit life, blessing, and favor through our support of
Text Copyright © 1996 Rabbi Dovid Green and
Project Genesis, Inc.