Ki Teitzei: Sharing The Burden
I was a Shabbat lunch guest of Rabbi Sol Berman. A group of us were climbing the stairs to his apartment, and Rabbi Berman stopped at each floor to talk and share a thought on the Parsha. I was wondering why he stopped so often, until I realized that another of his guests was quite overweight and was struggling to walk all the way up the steps. Our host was pausing to allow the guest to catch his breath. Rabbi Berman is a master of Chesed with sensitivity, and this is just one of numerous examples of this one area of his greatness.
“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. (Deuteronomy 22:4) We must help other load their burdens. (Concept 497) We may not leave them distraught with their burdens, but must help them to either load or unload. (#498)
We don’t have to wait until we see someone’s donkey suffering under a burden in order to fulfill these commandments. We don’t even have to wait until the next time we see someone trying to load a car. Rabbi Berman fulfilled this Mitzvah when he shared the burden of his suffering guest. We too, can fulfill this Mitzvah when we are willing to listen to someone pour out his heart and share his “burden” with him. We can offer our time and attention to someone who wants to restore a relationship with us. (See ‘What I Have Lost‘) We can offer our ear to someone who wants to share the burden of his heart as he reflects on what he wants to repair in his Teshuva. We can share the burden of another’s heart as they face a new year with fear and anxiety. We can share the burden of another just as God listens to us as we share our burdens with Him.
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