D’varim (Deuteronomy) 21:10–25:19
Our weekly reading this week is full of different precepts full of great wisdom, love, and grace; they also deal with some moral issues that are helpful for us today. Deuteronomy Chapter 22 opens with a few verses that, in many ways, remind me of my days as a young boy in the kibbutz. When I grew up, the people cared for one another like family – we never needed to lock the house because people didn’t steal from one another. There was mutual care and concern for one another as well as a code of honesty between us; if someone found something that did not belong to him, he would find out who its owner was, and see that it was returned.
I also remember days when one of the gates in the dairy barn was accidentally left open…the cows would escape and run all over the place! When this happened, all of us living on the kibbutz would join the local dairy workers to help catch them and return them to their places.
You shall not see your brother’s ox or his sheep straying away, and pay no attention to them; you shall certainly bring them back to your brother. And if your brother is not near you, or if you do not know him, then you shall bring it home to your house, and it shall remain with you until your brother looks for it; then you shall restore it to him. And thus you shall do with his donkey, and you shall do the same with his garment, and you shall do likewise with anything lost by your brother, which he has lost and you have found. You are not allowed to neglect them. You shall not see your brother donkey or his ox fallen down on the way, and pay no attention to them; you shall certainly help him to raise them up.
The principle in these verses is that we are to care not only for our own things, but also for the things of others. Some translations translate he Hebrew word, “Ach,” as “countrymen”, but I prefer to use the literal translation, “brother.” When you look at someone as your brother, you see him as family, and family members, in principle, care for one another and love one another, as well as care for each other’s possessions.
A few days ago I was talking to a gentleman who was very upset with the downward spiral in which he feels the world is heading. Scripture tells us that many will become lovers of self (2 Tim 3), and indeed we live in a day and age when people are becoming more and more self-focused and narcissistic. However, I want to encourage all followers of the Messiah to resist this trend; we are called to love one another and even to lay down our lives for each other! We can be an example of His sacrificial love to a hurting world that is in desperate need of true unconditional love.
In verse 4, it is written,
You shall not see your brother donkey or his ox fallen down on the way, and pay no attention to them; you shall certainly help him to raise them up.
As I read this, I thought about the amazing story that we read in Luke 10:25–36, which is that of the Good Samaritan:
And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” And he answered and said, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; DO THIS, AND YOU WILL LIVE.” But wishing to justify himself, he said to Yeshua, “And who is my neighbor?” Yeshua replied and said, “A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho; and he fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went off leaving him half dead. “And by chance a certain priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. “And likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. “But a certain Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him, and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. “And on the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return, I will repay you.’ “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” And Yeshua said to him, “Go and do the same.”
If in our parasha we are instructed to care for the animals that fall down, how much more are we to care for our brothers and sisters who fall down? As His followers, let’s lead the way not by what we say, but rather by what we do. There are endless opportunities all around us to do something good for someone else; let’s seek out ways we can serve others and truly be a “good neighbor.”
In what way will you serve someone today?
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel, August 31, 2017, and reposted with permission.