"If you see the donkey of your enemy [lit. the one you hate] struggling under its load and you consider ignoring them... make sure to help him!"
This is a fundamental Jewish value, recorded in this week's Torah portion. We must constantly exercise our muscles of compassion. Even if the individual themselves is out of harm’s way, and it's only their property which is in danger, it is our duty to give a helping hand at every opportunity. And then Torah explicitly writes - it is a Mitzvah (biblical commandment) to do so even if we are enemies!
No other system of law that I know of would require enemies to help each other. I believe this is a deep insight into the soul of Judaism and Jewish law. Mitzvah after Mitzvah point to a profound experience of personal growth, with the objective being true, absolute selflessness.
Now - what is the formula to help me to actually bring myself to help my enemy? This is a serious question, which needs deep thought.
The Torah’s answer is that you shouldn’t ever have any enemies! If something bothers you, don’t bear a grudge. Confront the individual and share your feelings effectively. Which is another Mitzvah (biblical commandment) by the way – “Don’t hate your fellow in your heart”. If justice needs to be served, take them to court, and have faith in the system. Enemies? There is no place for that in Judaism. Only love, and the altruistic pursuit of justice.
Indeed, this is a very tall order. Yet, the Torah instructs us, and therefore empowers us, to obsessively exercise compassion, and work towards the day that we can actually be selfless and loving to all people at all times.
Rabbi Mendy and Sara Alevsky
For Guys Only (this week) - Shabbat at Chabad. Friday, 2/13 - 7:00 PM. For exact directions, click here.