We are stretching in ahavas yisrael together to create z’chusim for K’lal Yisrael in these urgent times.
Last week’s stretch of the week was: Take a proactive step to keep your family safe.
Please allow ONE person to share her experience with this exercise for ONE minute.
Taking A Deeper Look - Lesson #26
DO NOT STAND BY
לא תעמד - LO SA’AMODE
PART 1 – Saving a Fellow Jew’s Life or Property – Part 2
Any time we are able to save a person from monetary loss and do not do so, it would be a violation of this mitzva. For example, our neighbor has gone on a two week vacation and we notice that he has left his lawn sprinkler on. Left as is, not only will he have to pay for the large amount of water wasted, but his lawn and garden may be damaged as well. According to this opinion, we would be obligated to figure out a way to get the water turned off or put on a timer. If we shrug our shoulders and look the other way, we may be violating the issur of lo sa’amode.
Even according to those opinions who do not consider this a violation of lo sa’amode, we still have the mitzva of v’ahavta l’ray’acha kamocha, loving our neighbor, which requires us to care about the possessions of our fellow Jew as we would care about our own, and the mitzva of ha’shav’as avayda, returning a lost object to its owner.
According to some opinions, the mitzva of lo sa’amod includes the issur to withhold testimony, if doing so will cause a monetary loss to another Jew. We may also be obligated to make an effort to save others from worry and anguish. For example, a husband who knows his wife is easily worried should make sure to call when he will be delayed coming home.
Some poskim infer that if we are obligated to save someone in physical danger, then we are certainly obligated to save him from spiritual danger. According to these opinions, the obligation to save our fellow Jew from doing an aveira is included in the mitzva of lo sa’amode.
(Excerpts from The Code of Jewish Conduct by Rabbi Yitzchok Silver)
Story: (based on a true story)
“Everyone in the car, now! If we don’t leave in two minutes we’ll hit all the bridge traffic.”
My in-laws’ house was an hour away with no traffic, not including car-loading time. It was 5:00 on a Friday afternoon. There was no way we wouldn’t hit traffic. Thankfully, it was summer, and while we were aiming for early Shabbos along with all of the other guests for my brother-in-law’s aufruf, late Shabbos would work as well, but making it in time for early Shabbos would certainly be much better. Then, we could actually eat with the family, and also not stress them out too much.
Fully loaded, with both luggage and children (yes, we double-checked both), off we went. Safely on our way with my husband driving, I immediately got on my cell phone to confirm final details with my sister-in-law about last minute details for the weekend and the wedding. Five blocks from home, a few blocks before the highway, we drove by the Kaplan’s house and stopped at a light. As we were pulling away, my husband said, “I think there’s a light on in the Kaplan’s van.”
“There is,” confirmed my eight year old, Dovid. “I saw it, too.”
“We left ours on last winter-Mr. Shapiro knocked on our door to tell us,” Pinchas chimed in.
“Remember when it happened to us on a Friday, and we didn’t know before Shabbos, and we tried to go somewhere after Shabbos and the car didn’t work?” asked Pessie.
“And Mommy called AAA and it turned out we forgot to renew, and we had to pay extra?” continued Pinchas. “Do you think the Kaplans have AAA?”
“We should go back and tell them,” said my husband.
I covered my phone and responded quickly, “We don’t have time. I’ll call them when I get off the phone with your sister.”
Two call-waitings and a Good Shabbos call to my mother later, we were at my in-laws, earlier than expected. They came out to hug my kids and usher us in and then over to the neighbors, and the next half hour passed in a flurry of dry cleaning bags and missing socks and shoes. We were putting away all the muktza things before heading next door when my husband said, “We never called the Kaplans about their light.”
It took me a minute to remember what he meant-it felt like it had been ages ago. “I’m sure they’re fine,” I wanted to answer. Candle-lighting was in four minutes. My directory was in the car, and I didn’t know the number by heart.
But then I remembered the summer Shabbos that the kids remembered, when I had to pay to have the car jumped at 11:00 PM after waiting for an hour for someone to help, and having to send my grandmother home by cab instead of driving her. Who knew what the Kaplan’s had on their plate? Who knew if anyone else had noticed their car?
My husband took my musings as hesitation. “We have to go call them now,” he said. “We have to think of their money as ours, and aren’t allowed to stand by and watch it be wasted,” he added mindful of the young ears listening around us. I ran to the car to get the number, doing my job to model z’rizus, and called as my husband headed out to mincha with the boys.
Suri Kaplan had turned off her dome light just fifteen minutes before, having noticed it while taking out a last bag of trash before Shabbos. She thanked me for my effort, and we both rushed to light candles.
As we sat down to relax with the family before the meal, Pessie asked what had happened. Hearing that our call had not been the lynchpin to avert a calamity, she said with disappointment, “I guess we didn’t need to drive ourselves crazy to call.”
“But we did,” I answered. “Do you rush to make sure you aren’t mechalel Shabbos? Or go out of your way not to say loshon hara? HaShem’s Torah tells us we can’t ignore someone’s need, so we have to make the effort, even if we don’t know if they need it. Then He takes care of the rest. With Bain Adam L’Chavayro, we never know how important the things we do and say are, but we have to do them anyway. It’s for HaShem, and for us too, because we make ourselves the kind of people who remember to do things like that.”
Pessie looked unenlightened, but I knew she heard. How often do you get a teachable moment out of a pre-Shabbos rush? I also knew I was talking to myself. Next time, I can hang up the phone, make the necessary call, and continue my other business later. After all, if it was my light, wouldn’t I take care of it right away?
Discussion Question Options:
How much effort must we put forth to save another Jew money? To save them worry?
How do our personal circumstances impact the lengths to which we must go? Does it matter how much they will lose?
How does “v’ahavta l’rayacha kamocha” impact our observance of this mitzva?
Stretch of the Week:
Perform an action that saves a friend, neighbor or relative from a loss.