You don’t have to love your enemy, but you do have to help him/her. Rabbi Jonathan Sachs points to the Sermon on the Mount which tells us to love our enemy. Loving our enemy is not an easy task when someone has physically or emotionally harmed us. In this week’s Torah portion, we get a law in the Torah that is a little easier to absorb and follow, “if you see your enemy’s donkey sagging under its burden, you shall not pass by. You shall surely release it with him.” You do not have to love your enemy, but you do have to help him. The lesson from the Torah is clear. Others, humans or animals, should not have to suffer because of a feud between you and someone else.
I am reminded of this teaching often when I come across stories like the ones coming out of Israel about Israeli nurses and doctors tending to the sick and wounded Syrian refugees that show up to the northern border with Israel. Despite a long standing and bitter battle between Syria and Israel, sworn enemies, there is a recognition that the innocent should not suffer because of the strife between the two nations.
This week’s Torah portion Mishpatim is really a continuation of last week’s Torah portion when revelation of God’s word takes place. In addition to the Ten Commandments, we get a plethora of civil and ethical laws, and by connecting them all together our tradition holds that they all share equal weight in the eyes of the creator. All the laws, taken together, help us create a just and moral society.
Wishing everyone a Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi Bradley Tecktiel has been Midbar
Kodesh Temple's spiritual leader
since August 2008. Rabbi Tecktiel was
ordained at the Jewish Theological
Seminary of America in May of 1996. He
holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees, one
from List College and one from Columbia
University. He also holds a Masters of Arts
from the Jewish Theological Seminary.
You can follow him on Twitter @RabbiMKT.