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INSIGHT: People Too!

Unfair Pair

Unfair Pair

From “People Ouch-Prevention” to “Animal Ouch-Prevention.” (Never heard of “ouch-prevention?” That’s because we just invented it… here at Shazak!)

Moshe Rabbeinu announced, “Do not plow your fields using an ox and a donkey together.”

When a farmer is plowing his field, he may use 2 oxen, or 2 donkeys, or 2 mules, or 2 horses, but should never plow with a mixture – such as an ox and a donkey together, or a horse and a mule together.

So, if any mixture is forbidden, why does the Torah single out a mixture of an ox and a donkey?

The Torah does not tell us the reason, but the all-time great Torah Commentaries, have some wonderful and interesting ideas:

The Chizkuni (Rabbi Chezkiah ben Manoach, 13th century, France), writes that it’s because a kosher animal chews its cud, and a non-kosher animal does not. Now, imagine an ox (a kosher animal) and a donkey (a non-kosher animal) plowing together, and the ox is chewing its cud, as it always does.

“Chew, chew, chew. Chomp, chomp, chomp.”

It seems that the ox is eating non-stop!

Meanwhile, the donkey, who never chews its cud,

No “Chew, chew, chew. Chomp, chomp, chomp.”

will feel sad, jealous, and even pained… The donkey thinks the ox has plenty of food to eat while he doesn’t have any food!

What a great lesson! Our Torah teaches us how extremely careful and sensitive we must be to everyone… even to our animals… even to an animal such as a donkey who is just imagining things (and probably needs a good donkey therapist).

Another reason comes from a Spanish/French scholar, Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra (1089-1167), who authored a famous commentary on the Chumash, known as Ibn Ezra (often pronounced Even Ezra).

According to him, it has to do with the strength of the animals:

Have you ever heard of the expression, “strong as an ox”? Well, an ox is a lot stronger than a donkey. So, if you have an ox and a donkey pulling one plow, things are likely to get unbalanced and very painful for both animals! 

Shazak insight

People Too!

There’s an ancient holy book called Sefer HaChinuch that lists all 613 Mitzvos divided by Parshiyos of the Torah, and offers amazing explanations of the Mitzvos. The author of this fantastic Sefer, is a mystery. All we know about him is that he was a great scholar from Spain, who lived sometime in the 13th century (long before you were born).

Here, after explaining the Mitzvah not to plow your fields using an ox and a donkey together, this mysterious author adds the following:

From this Mitzvah, every wise person should take a lesson not to hire two people to work side-by-side with each other, if you know that they are very different in nature or in habit. Think about it… If the Torah is careful about the pain of animals who work for you, this is surely the case for people you employ!

Sefer HaChinuch, Mitzvah 550

BTW: Although it is not clear who wrote Sefer HaChinuch, we do know that the book was written by a father for his son, who was just becoming Bar Mitzvah. Now you know why it was called Sefer HaChinuch – the Book of Education.


Geared for Kids... Great for Adults!

Geared for Kids... Great for Adults!

Did you know learning Torah could be this much fun?
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