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COMING SOON Bez"H
Fascinating Insights—The Sefer (in English)
Helping the Highway Helpless
R’ Ovadia Yosef was asked if one
sees a car that broke down on the highway and the driver of the car is standing
on the shoulder of the road helplessly if there an obligation for other
experienced drivers on the road to pull over and to assist the stranded driver
in any way possible by repairing the car or offering him helpful advice?
The Rambam writes that if one encounters his fellow on the
road and sees his fellow’s animal collapsing under the weight of what it is
carrying, it is a positive Torah commandment for one to unload the packages
from upon it. One shouldn’t, however, merely unload the animal’s burden and
leave its owner distraught (since the owner will only be able to reload the
packages on the animal alone by exerting tremendous effort), but rather one
should help the owner to reload the packages onto the animal. This is indeed a
separate Mitzva. The reason for the Mitzvos of unloading and reloading is to
help out another Jew in his time of distress as opposed to seeing him
distraught and merely walking away. There is no difference between an animal
belonging to a Jew or a Jew’s car that breaks down in the middle of the
road—especially since sometimes, such situations can even lead to danger. It is
therefore a Mitzva and obligation for any experienced driver or mechanic who
sees a Jew stranded on the shoulder of the road with his broken-down car to
pull over and help him by repairing the car or in any other way. The Aruch
Hashulchan rules likewise with regards to a horse and buggy
that if one of the wheels break, anyone who sees the wagon driver in this
situation must help him in any way possible until he is up and running again.
Therefore, concerning our question, if one sees a broken-down car on the side
of the road, it is a Mitzva and obligation to come to the aid of the driver and
passengers of the vehicle as much as possible. This certainly constitutes the
Mitzva of performing Chessed.
Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander
Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia
Goldberg. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and
publications. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim
where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching
Jews of all levels of observance.