Imagine living in Eretz Yisrael long ago, when it was common for people to travel with animals. They would load their suitcases, bags or heavy merchandise onto the back of a donkey and start their journey. Naturally, the poor donkey would often get pretty tired and achy under all those heavy bags.
Now imagine you see a man riding a donkey that’s carrying a heavy load and he is talking to his trusty donkey.
“Oh my goodness. By the look in your eyes, I can see you are OH NO!… about to collapse… OY VEY!”
“I sure am about to collapse… HELP!” the donkey would have said, if he could talk like Bilam’s donkey.
And then… it happened. The dear ol’ donkey fell to the ground. OUCH! What a disaster! Things break, merchandise all over the place, and before you know it, the donkey is totally out of control. HEE HAW… OY VAY! It will take a minor miracle to get it back on the road. And let’s not forget its terrible pain.
So, Moshe Rabbeinu says, “Do not ignore your fellow’s donkey or ox when they are about to fall under their heavy load. Help them unload. Every second counts.”
Indeed, it’s a perfect opportunity to perform a great Mitzvah. By helping a fellow Jew unburden his animal, you are being kind to the person and to the animal as well.
In modern times where cars and trucks have replaced oxen or donkeys, we can still lend a hand. “Sharing someone’s burden” is always a Mitzvah, whether it’s helping your guest bringing in their luggage to the house or carrying your teacher’s heavy box of books.