My Despised, My Beloved
If you see the ass of someone you despise struggling under its burden and you wish to ignore him, you must unload his burden with him.
If you see your fellow's ass or ox fallen on the road, do not ignore it; you must help him raise it.
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In the verse in Exodus the context is helping an enemy. In the verse in our Parsha, the context is helping a fellow. If I'm supposed to help an enemy, wouldn't I assume I should help a fellow?
Rabbeynu Bechaya on this verse:
In Parshat Mishpatim it is mentioned: "When you see the ass of someone you despise" but in this parsha it says: the ass of your fellow." This comes to teach you that if you despise a person that he will become your "fellow" through your helping him, that you will work with him and through that forget the hate and remember love.
Rabbeynu Bechayya reminds us that relationships are inert because we choose to keep them that way. The Torah requires us to keep trying, to keep caring, to reverse the dynamic and transform feelings of contempt into feelings of concern through acts of caring and love.
Prepared by Rabbi Avi Weinstein, Director Hillel's Joseph Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Learning.