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Lead-Off Batter: The Human Being

A very powerful idea is found Parshat Ki Tatzae that is crucial for the days leading to Rosh Hashanah.

לֹא־תִרְאֶה אֶת־חֲמוֹר אָחִיךָ אוֹ שׁוֹרוֹ נֹפְלִים בַּדֶּרֶךְ וְהִתְעַלַּמְתָּ מֵהֶם הָקֵם תָּקִים עִמּוֹ׃

If you see your brother’s donkey or ox fallen on the road, do not ignore it; you must help him raise it.

The Torah instructs us against closing our eyes to the plight of others in need. However, there is a catch. Rashi teaches:

Along with the owner, this mitzvah is performed. But if the owner goes aside and sits down and says to him, “Since it is a duty for you to load it, if you want to load, go ahead and load!” He is exempt from doing it. ( BAVA METZIA 32A)

Rashi based upon the Gemara teaches the owner’s assistance is critical to the successful performance of the mitzvah. Without the owner taking part, no mitzvah exists. When two people work together amazing things are accomplished.

The Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Ha-Kohen Kagan suggests a deeper meaning. Quoting the Sifrei, the Chofetz Chaim says: In all areas of human endeavor, when the Jew sanctifies him/herself on earth, the person will also be sanctified in Heaven. Hashem responds to the actions of the human being. Rabbi Eliakim Koenigsberg, Rosh Yeshiva at RIETS, points out the same would be true for תשובה repentance. Too many people wait for Hashem to make the first step. In fact, the first move should and must come from the human being!

One may extrapolate from the Rashi quoted above, Hashem is exempt from assisting, the Jew in performing teshuva unless the Jew initiates and takes part in the תשובה repentance process. Working together with Hashem we will merit being written in the Book of Life for 5782.

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