Monday, February 23, 2009

Mishpatim: Helping Unload an Animal

In my shiur this week I spoke about the mitzvah of perika and te'ina. The mitzvah of perika is found in Mishpatim and the basic details are that one is obligated to help unload your friend's (or enemy's) animal. The mitzvah of te'ina is found in Ki Tzeitzei and it involves helping someone load his packages onto his animal.

Although it would seem that this mitzvah does not have much practical relevance, there are two issues that could apply in our society.

1) Does the mitzvah apply to helping a person?

There is a machlokes Rishonim whether this mitzvah applies to helping a person who is carrying or picking up packages.


The Rashba (Shut Rashba Siman 252,256,257) holds that this mitzvah applies to helping a person. He brings several rayos. One rayah he mentions is that the gemara in Bava Metziah (30b) has a story where Rabbi Yishmael ben Isi helped a man carry his packages. The gemara asks why did Rabbi Yishmael do this, he should be patur because he is a zakein and it isn't befitting of his honor. The Rashba says, we see the gemara did not ask that he should be patur because the mitzvah does not apply to a person. It must be that the mitzvah applies to helping a person.

Both the Chinuch and the Rambam seem to hold this way because in mitzva 540 (by the lav of not helping someone) the Chinuch mentions that it applies to an animal and a person. The Rambam in Lav 270 also says it applies to a person.


The Radvaz (siman 765) argues on the Rashba. Interestingly, he brings a rayah from the fact the Rambam doesn't mention it in the Mishna Torah. He doesn't address the fact that it is mentioned in Sefer HaMitzvos. He also argues that a person is a ba'al sechel and if he took on to heavy a load, it is his own fault. He clarifies that he doesn't mean that there is no mitzvah of chesed or v'ahavata l'reiacha kamocha to help him, but that there is no mitazvah of perikah or te'ina.

How do we pasken

As mentioned the Rambam does not bring it in teh Mishan Torah. Furthermore, it is not mentioned in Shulchan Aruch whether this halacha applies to a person. (Choshen Mishpat Siman 272 deals with this halacha).

I don't know if that means we pasken like the Radvaz or the Rashba/Chinuch/Rambam Sefer Hamitzvos.

One interesting nafka mina on how we pasken is the next issue.

2) Helping someone whose car breaks down

Is there a mitzvah of perika or te'ina to help someone whose car breaks down? (Obviously there is a mitzvah of chesed or v'ahavata l'reiacha kamocha)

L'chorah, this question only starts according to the Rashba. According to the Radvaz, since the mitzva only applies to an animal, there would be no mitzvah here either. However, what about according to the Rashba?

The Aruch Hashulchan paskens (Choshen Mishpat 272) that if someone's horse and wagon get stuck in the mud, or even if a wagon wheel breaks there is a mitzvah of perikah/te'ina to help him. The question is does this apply to a car?

I found on that in the Torah Journal "Beis Aharon V'Yisorel", someone wrote about this. In Av-Elul 5759 volume 84, Rav Chaim Dishon wants to argue that the Aruch Hashulchan only applies to where there is an animal involved. One of his arguements is that the possuk only mentions donkey, and the gemara learns other animals from a limud and the Rashba learns a person from a kal v'chomer. But the Rashba's kal v'chomer can only be xtended to as person carrying a load. If it is a car, we don't have a limud in the gemara and we don't have a kal v'chomer. Also, he writes that the gemara requires the tzaar of the animal and the tzaar of the owner. Here we don't have tzaar of an animal. In a subsequent volume Kislev-Teves 5760 volume 86, someone named takes issue with this and argues that the mitzvah would apply to a car.

L'ma'aseh I don't know what the poskim would say.

Parshas Mishpatim:One Parsha or Two?

I happened to see an interesting footnote in the MAchon Yerushalayim edition of the Minchas Chinuch. The Chinuch splits Parshas Mishpatim into two sections. Teh first section is from the beginning until the mitzvah of "kesef talveh" and the second section is from this mitzvah until the end. The footnote explains that in certain communities they were makpid to read Parshas Tazria before Pesach. In a leap year there are 29 weeks from Beraishis until Pesach but only 28 parshiyos. In these communities they split Mishpatim into two parts to make up for the extra week. According to the footnote, this is currently done in Algiera and Tunisia.