This week, we read the double portion of
Behar B'Chukotai. Amongst other things, it discusses the sabbatical year and the jubilee year, giving us suggestions and instructions on how we can best support one another, alleviating financial hardships and challenges that those in our community may face. In one such verse, the Torah teaches us that "if thy brother be waxen poor, and his means fail with thee; then thou shalt uphold him."
The biblical commentator Rashi offers us insight into this verse by offering a parable. Upholding our brethren is like holding up a donkey that is carrying a heavy load. He says "To a load which is on a donkey. While the load is still on the donkey, one person can hold it in its place, but once it falls to the ground even five men cannot put it in its place."
I think that Rash is right. It's much easier to prevent some from falling, than to have to pick them up from the ground after they have already fallen. More often than not, we recognize a problem; we try to fix it, after it has already become a serious problem. Had we paid attention and recognized that it was getting too heavy earlier, we could have intervened. Our Torah reading this week can teach us to be proactive, to anticipate, and pay attention to challenges that may arise. Whether at work, with our families, or in the world around us, if we wait for things to fall apart before we try to fix them, than they become much harder, and more costly to fix. Which is why it is my hope and prayer for all of us this Shabbat and beyond, that like the donkey, we have the wisdom to be proactive in lightening the heavy loads that we bear, before they become too heavy for us to carry. And as the Torah suggests, may we help one another do all of the heavy lifting.