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Stopping to help with a flat tire

Category: // By Rabbi: הרב עופר עוזרי // Answer date: 20.01.2021

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Question:

Last week I was traveling up to the mountains for the weekend and I saw a friend of mine with a flat tire on the side of the road. It was getting close to Shabbat and I was rushing so I didn’t stop to help him change the tire. Was I supposed to stop and help him?

Answer:

It is a Machloket, so if by stopping you would have had a doubt if you would have made it before Shabbat to your destination then you did the right thing. However if you were just nervous, since there are those Poskim who feel it is not just a mitzvah but a Chovah then you should have stopped.

The Mishna in Baba Metzia Daf 32a: If one unloaded a burden from an animal collapsing under its weight and then later loaded it onto the animal, and later unloaded and loaded it again, even if this scenario repeats itself four or five times, he is obligated to continue unloading and loading, as it is stated: “If you see the donkey of him that hates you collapsed under its burden, you shall forgo passing him by; you shall release it [azov ta’azov] with him”
The Gemara comments : Rava says: From the statements of both of these tanna’im it can be learned that the requirement to prevent suffering to animals is by Torah law…

The Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 272 8-9 writes. A Non-Jewish animal and the parcels of a Jew, if he Non-Jew was driving the donkey you do not have to help otherwise you must unpack and repack the packages because of the distress of the Jew. So too if the animal was the Jews’ and the packages were a Onn Jews you must unpack and repack them because the Jew’s distress but if they all belong to a Non-Jew you only need to help him because he might hate Jews for not helping. The Rema adds Some say he must always unpack the animal (if the packages are too heavy or unbalanced) because of Tzaar Baalei Chayim (animals’ distress) which is from the Torah. So too anyplace where you are not obligated because of Prikah (the commandment to help him unpack) you are obligated because of the animals distress, and the difference is whether you can ask for payment. (If it is an obligation to unpack you may not take payment, for the animal’s distress you can.)
The question is what the meaning of Tzaar Yisrael is. Rasho says the Tzaar is that the Jew will get stuck where he is. Are we required to help him because of V’Ahvata LeReacha Kamocha and Chessed or because of the obligation of Hakem Takem Imo.
Teshuvat Chavot Yair (191) understands that even though we do say we have to help animals because of Tzaar Baalei Chayim we do not say Kal Vachomer there is Tzaar Adam. Since a person is intelligent, even if he has distress he can find ways to calm down.
The Rashba (1:52) however says that there is a mitzvah of Prikah and Teina by a person as well. He brings a proof from the Gemara Bab Metziah 30b: Rava says: In any case where he would recover his own item and would consider it to be in keeping with his dignity, he is also obligated to return another’s item. And any case where he unloads and loads his own animal’s burden, he is also obligated to unload and load the burden of another’s animal.
The Gemara relates: Rabbi Yishmael, son of Rabbi Yosi, was walking on the road. A certain man encountered him, and that man was carrying a burden that consisted of sticks of wood. He set down the wood and was resting. The man said to him: Lift them for me and place them upon me. Since it was not in keeping with the dignity of Rabbi Yishmael, son of Rabbi Yosi, to lift the wood, Rabbi Yishmael said to him: How much are they worth? The man said to him: A half-dinar. Rabbi Yishmael, son of Rabbi Yosi, gave him a half-dinar, took possession of the wood, and declared the wood ownerless.

The Gemara brings a proof that a Talmid Chacham does not have to return a lost object or unpack animals and repack if it is not something he does from the story o R’ Yishmael B’rebi Yossi, that he didn’t want to help a person repack his backpack because of Kavod. He says it is clear there is Prikah by a person.
The Rambam in Sefer Hamitzvot also says there is a mitzvah to repack an animal ‘or a person. (203)
The question is the opinion of the Rashba discussed in the Shulchan Aruch. The Shulchan Aruch quotes Tzaar Yisrael but does not say straight out there is Prikah by a person, except Tzaar Yisrael for his money. There are Poskim, (R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg) who says there is no obligation by man, and we do not follow the Rashba.
The Aruch Hashulchan say that included in the obligation of Prikah and Teina is if one sees a broken wagon on the side of the road, there is an obligation to help him. R’ZNG understood that is only because it is like the pack of a donkey ,the wagon is the pack of the horse and you just help it.
R’ Ovadia Yosef however says that the Rambam in Yad Hachazaka is also seems to understand the reason for Prikah his not Tzaar Baalei Chayim rather the Tzaar of Yisrael. As he says in the case of a Rasha “If you find him stuck with his packages it’s a mitzvah to help him and to leave him leaning towards death maybe he will stay with his possessions and come to danger and the Torah is particular about saving Jews. It would seem the reason for Prikah is Tzaar Yisrael not Tzaar Baalei Chayim. Therefore if someone has a flat tire one is required to help him for the same reason.
Even if you say the Aruch Hashulchan understands the wagon is the load of a horse , a car is the load of a person. If we say like the Rashba or the Rambam there is a mitzvah of Prikah and Teina by a person then helping him with his car would be the same.
On a regular day you are required to help your friend with the flat tire because of Veahavta LeReacha and maybe even obligated because of Prikah. However on Erev Shabbat, if you could still make it before Shabbat but you are just nervous, you must stop and help him. If your need is pressing you may rely on the lenient opinions and not stop.

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