1,230. Leaving a Straggler Behind

189:5 The Torah says, “When you see the donkey of your enemy lying under its load…” (Exodus 23:5). “Your enemy” does not mean a member of one of the seven Canaanite nations, since they are not included in the obligation to unload and reload; we assist in those cases to alleviate the animal’s suffering. Rather, it means a Jew. How can it be that one Jew hates another. After all, the Torah commands us, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart” (Leviticus 19:17). The Sages gave the example of one Jew who saw another violate a mitzvah; he rebuked him but the violator did not repent. In such a case, he is obligated to hate the violator until he repents and forsakes his evil ways. However, even if the violator has not yet repented, if one finds him distressed over his animal’s burden, he is required to help him unload and reload, and not just to leave him like this. This is because maybe he will stay there out of concern for a financial loss and by doing so, he will come to be endangered. The Torah is strict about us protecting Jewish lives, whether they are evil or righteous, because we are connected to G-d. Ezekiel 33:11 tells us, “…As I live, says Hashem G-d, I do not desire the death of the wicked, but that the wicked should turn from his way and live.”

189:6 If a group is traveling together and the legs of a donkey belonging to one of them are weak, the other members of the group are not allowed to take their donkeys and separate from him, leaving him alone on the road. However, if his donkey falls and cannot continue at all, they are permitted to separate themselves from him and they need not delay themselves more than necessary because of him. Similarly, if they are traveling in wagons and one of them suffers a breakdown that will take a little time to repair, the rest are not allowed to separate themselves from him unless the delay would take an inordinate amount of time.