Members of a group [from context: a caravan] in which one of them happened to have his donkey split its hooves, the members of the group are not allowed to separate [from him] with their donkeys and leave him alone on the way. But, if his donkey fell, and is not able to walk anymore at all, then they are permitted to separate from him, and they do not have to be held up for him overly much. Similarly people in a group who are traveling with wagons, and one of them happen to have some problem that he must wait a little to fix it, his partners are no allowed to separate from him, but [they may] if he is held up for a lot.
When it says “When you see the donkey of one you hate struggling under its burden” etc… (Shemos 23:5), this “hated person” isn’t from the non-Jews, for they aren’t within the mitzvah of loading and unloading [animals] except because [of the prohibition against causing “pain to living things” — only a Jew is.
How is it possible for a Jew to be hated by another Jew, since the verse says “Do not hate your brother in your heart[, you shall surely rebuke your compatriot, and not carry a sin for him]” (Vayiqra 19:17)? The sages said, for example, if he personally and alone saw the person commit [a heinous] sin, and he warned him of it and he did not repent, it is a mitzvah to hate him until he does teshuvah and returns from his evil.
Even though he didn’t yet do teshuvah, if you find in in pain because of his burden [on an animal] it is a mitzvah to unload and load [the animal] with him and not leave him thus. For maybe he will wait for the sake of his money and come to danger, and the Torah is careful about the lives of Jews, whether evil whether righteous, since they are consecrated to Hashem and believe in the essence of the faith, as it says “Tell them: As I ‘Live’, says the L-rd Hashem, if I had any desire for the death of the wicked, rather, that the wicked return from his way and live; [return, return from your evil ways; for why must you die, house of Israel?” (Yechezqeil 33:17)
The piece about hating another Jew has some interesting facets:
- The assumption is that since the Torah doesn’t allow a Jew to hate another (under normal circumstances), there is no way the verses pertaining to loading and unloading animals could possibly refuse to someone who hates another despite the prohibition. This is interesting as hatered is an emotion, and thus many people will inadvertantly violate the prohibition of “you shall not hate”.
- The need for the person to be a solitary witness is so that:
- he knows that the person is a sinner without relying on lashon hara or rumor and
- he has no recourse to testify in beis din as that requires two witnesses.
- Even while the person still embraces evil, we must love him as Hashem does, as we see our brother’s still untapped potential to return to the nation’s calling. “That the wicked turn from his way and live.”
The animal of a non-Jew, if the non-Jew is driving one of his animals, whether the burden is a Jews or whether it’s a non-Jews, he is not obligate [in the above two prohibitions]. He only has to remove the load, because of [the prohibition against causing] “pain to living things”, and he is permitted to accept pay for it. However, to load [the animal], he is not obligated at all — except if there is a possibility of enmity [by not helping].
But if there is no non-Jew there, rather a Jew who is driving the animal, he is also obligated to load [the animal] because of the pain of the Jew. Similar if it’s a Jew’s animal and a non-Jew’s burden [being carried by it], he must both unload and load [the animal] because of the pain of the Jew.
If he unburdened and loaded [the animal] and it fell again, he is obligated to unburden and load it another time, even 100 times, as it says “you shall surely release it”, “you shall surely put it up with him”. [Literally, "release you shall release", and "set up, you shall set up with him"; this lesson is being derived from the doubling of the language used to denote "surely".]
Therefore, you must go with him up to a parsah [2.4-2.88 miles], because maybe he will need him, unless the person with the package to be carried says to him “I do not need you.”
The mitzvah of unloading [an animal] must be done [even] for free. However, to load [an animal], he is not obligated unless he is paid, and similarly for his traveling with him [see above], he must pay him. [Presumably because unloading the animal is an exercise in compassion for the animal, but reloading it is more a service for its owner.]
I am wondering how generalizable the obligation of “loading an animal” is. Does it mean there is a general duty to accept a job that would aid another?
סִימָן קפט – הִלְכוֹת פְּרִיקָה וּטְעִינָה
189: Laws of Loading and Unloading Animals
Someone who encounters his friend on the way, and his animal is struggling under its burden, whether it was a burden that is appropriate for it, whether it was a burden that was more than appropriate for it, there is a mitzvah to help him remove it from her, as it says, “[When you see the donkey of someone who hates you struggling under its burden and you pause from helping it,] you shall surely help it with him.” (Shemos 23:5)
After you remove [the burden] do not leave your friend in trouble and go off from him, rather help him put it back and burden the animal [correctly], as it says, “[You shall not see your brothers donkey or his ox fallen on the road, and you hide yourself from them] you shall surely pick it up [with him].” (Devarim 22:4)
And if someone leaves his friend, and didn’t unburden or burden [the animal in need], he neglected an obligation and violated a prohibition, as it says “You shall not see your brothers donkey or his ox fallen on the road…” (Ibid.)