Lesson # 231• Kindness to animals
The fact that in both Sh'mot and D'varim the verses are parallel and also appear one after the other, shows the Divine intent that the laws of one will be similar to the laws of the other. As is seen below; the laws of found objects and of loading, unloading, and reloading animals are parallel to each other: the three commandments, two positive and one prohibition; the violations of the commandments by "turning aside"; the exemptions afforded to certain classes of people; the compensation or lack of compensation to be paid; and to act beyond the requirements of the law.
Maimonides in Laws Concerning Murder and The Preservation of Life writes: The person referred to in the verse [Sh'mot 23:4] as the enemy does not mean an enemy from the heathen nations, but rather a Jewish enemy. How can a Jew have a Jewish enemy? The Torah states 'You shall not hate your brother in your heart: [Vayikra 19: 17] The Sages stated that if one all alone sees another commit a transgression and warns him and he does not desist, one is obligated to hate him until he repents and departs from his evil ways. Yet even if he has not yet repented and he finds himself alarmed with the bundles [on his animal], one is obligated to help him load and unload, and not to leave him to possibly die because he may delay leaving the place because of his belongings and find himself in danger. The Torah is very solicitous for the lives of Jews, whether they are wicked or righteous, since they [are presumed] to acknowledge God, and believe in the essentials of the religion. As it is written "As I live saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked but that the wicked turn from his way and live." [Yechezkel 33: 11 ]
There is another underlying theme in these lessons, namely the prevention of cruelty to animals. There is a dispute in the Talmud whether the concept of treating an animal kindly is of Torah or Rabbinic origin. The prevailing view is that the concept is of Torah origin.
The Torah commandments to load, unload, and reload an
The performance of the unloading and loading commandments
If this particular animal is always overloaded and its natural gait is to walk bent over, the obligation to unload the animal is not present. However, while not being under an obligation to unload the animal because of the Torah commandment to unload, Reuven has the obligation to unload some of the bundles because the Torah enjoins him to prevent any animal from suffering.
Once Reuven has performed the first commandment of unloading the animal, he now has to perform the second commandment of helping to reload the animal. If Reuven sees a bundle that has fallen from the animal, Reuven must assist Shimon in loading that bundle onto the animal. In loading or reloading the animal, Reuven must take care to see that the animal is not overloaded. If Shimon wishes to overload the animal, Reuven must not assist him and should protest to Shimon that Shimon should bring another animal to carry the overload.
Assume that Reuven helped unload and then helped to reload and a bundle fell off the animal, or the animal is once again staggering under the burden, Reuven must once again assist Shimon in unloading and reloading the animal. Not only must Reuven assist Shimon as many times as is necessary to unload and reload, or load the animal; Shimon is required to accompany Shimon with his animal for a distance to see that all is now well with the animal carrying its burden. Shimon may waive the requirement for Reuven to accompany him and the animal for that distance. There is an opinion that Reuven need accompany Shimon and his animal for a distance of one mil, or about 2/3 of an American mile approx. 1 km).
Compensation of the assister
More on this subject IYH next week.
The lessons of Rabbi Quint's column are now coming from vol.VIII of his monumental work, A Restatement of Rabbinic Civil Law. Vol. IX has been recently released, and vol. X will be out soon, IY"H to complete this important translation and commentary of the sadly neglected part of Shulchan Aruch, CHOSHEN MISHPAT.