Thoughts from Kollel KLAL


The passuk states “וכי ימוך אחיך ומטה ידו עמך והחזקת בו גר ותושב וחי עמך, when your brother will become poor, and his hand will collapse with you, you shall strengthen him, the convert and the permanent resident, and let him live with you.” The H’ksav V’hakabalah explains, the passuk teaches two points: 1- When your brother will become poor and his hand will collapse with you, you shall strengthen him. 2- A convert and a permanent resident – let live with you.”

Rashi explains: והחזקת בו teaches that you shall strengthen him before he collapses. Do not let him fall, for then it will be difficult to stand him back up. This is compared to donkey with packages upon its back, which is on the verge of collapsing. While the packages are still on the donkey, one person can hold it and set it in order. However, once the donkey collapses, five people will not be able to stand it up. Rather, strengthen him when he starts to collapse and fall. In such a short time, you can make such a big difference. By helping the person’s animal immediately, you will save extreme difficulty. So too is true with people, if we help another person immediately, whether it may be with carrying things, physically, or emotional support, it shows how much we care and the importance of heeding to his needs. This will encourage him, strengthen him, and cause him to hold up and bring him to a better state of being.

Rashi explains גר ותושב teaches even if the person is a גר, which refers to a ger tzedek or a תושב, a ger toshav, help him. A ger tzedek is a complete convert, and a ger toshav is one who accepts to not worship idiolatry and eats carcasses. The גר and תושב are nouns, two types of converts. Simply, Rashi understands, there is a mitzvah of והחזקת to strengthen these two types of people, the convert and the permanent dweller, and enable him to be וחי עמך, live with you. The Torah states the mitzvah to strengthen your brother, and adds this also applies to the ger tzedek and the ger toshav.

Onkelos translates והחזקת בו גר ותושב וחי עמך differently, “and you shall strengthen him, let him dwell, and settle, and he will live with you.” He translates the words גר ותושב וחי as verbs, strengthen him so he will dwell, and he will settle, and he will live. The H’ksav V’hakabalah explains, Onkelos understands the 1st part of the passuk as a condition: if your brother is endangered, then והחזקת בו, you shall strengthen him. The Ramban says, the following words גר ותושב וחי עמך are all part of the mitzvah, which clarifies how to fulfill והחזקת בו, strengthening him. The Chasam Sofer adds, that by holding the poor person up and keeping him from falling, you will enable him to join and dwell with you.

The Ramban brings b’shem Rav Potiri: two people were walking on the road and one has a jug of water, if he will drink it, he will make it to a place where people live, however his friend won’t. If both will drink, neither of them will make it back. It is better for that both should drink so that one should not see the other die. This was the ruling until Rebbi Akiva came and taught “וחי אחיך עמך, and your brother shall live with you,” which teaches, your life comes before the life of your friend, rather you should drink. The Ramban explains it is the mitzvas aseh to help another person live, and we derive from here the mitzvah of saving one’s own life. The pessukim state both וחי עמך, and he shall live with you, and וחי אחיך עמך, and your brother shall live with you, in order to strengthen this important mitzvah.

May we care about others and help them live healthy, both physically and emotionally.

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