The secret to developing relationships, keeping love alive, and even turning adversaries into allies is giving, not receiving.
By Rabbi Ari Enkin, United with Israel Rabbinic Director
This week’s Torah portion is “Ki Teitzei” (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19) and it is bursting with mitzvot, commandments. In fact, over 10 percent of all of the Torah commandments can be found in this week’s reading.
One of these commandments is the requirement to help unload the overburdened ox or donkey of another person. For example, people who pass strangers on the road struggling with their over-loaded donkeys are required to stop and help ensure that the weight can be rearranged and reorganized so that the drivers and their donkeys can continue their journey.
As the verse in this week’s reading says: “You shall not turn away from the donkey or ox of your brother that is falling on the road . . . you shall surely help the fellow stand them up.” (Deut 22:4) Make no mistake, although passing an ox or donkey along a road is a rarity nowadays, this commandment is equally applicable to helping someone with car trouble along the side of the road.
It is noted, however, that this week’s Torah portion is not the first time this mitzva is cited. It is also cited in the book of Exodus where it says, “If you see your enemy’s donkey lying under its burden, even though you might not want to help him, you must make every effort to help him.”
There is one glaring difference between the Exodus citation and the Deuteronomy citation: In the Exodus citation, the verse uses the words “your enemy” while in Deuteronomy it uses the words “your brother.” Why the change? Is it your enemy’s donkey or your bother’s donkey? What’s going on over here?
In Hebrew, the word for love is “ahava” whose root word is “hav”, meaning, “to give.” Although we commonly believe that we love those who give to us and those who do for us, truth be told, love is created when we give to others and do for others! Indeed, don’t you love most the people for whom you do the most? Don’t parents give to their children more than anyone else in the world?
One of the tips for reigniting a relationship is to do something for that person! It can be to a spouse, parent, boss, co-worker and just about anyone else. Giving and doing for others reignites love!
This is why Torah begins with the donkey owner being “your enemy” while later he is “your brother.” There is no question that stopping to help your enemy with a flat tire will force the other person to realize that YOU are truly a great person. Any hard feelings will then melt away, turning that person from “your enemy” to “your brother”.
For more insights by Rabbi Enkin on this week’s Torah portion, click on the links below: