Pay attention to the cracks

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Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

We need to pay attention to the cracks, the sooner the better. In this week's Torah portion, the story is told of a man whose financial situation begins to deteriorate. What should be done? "You shall support him". And Rashi explains: it's forbidden to allow him to fall and become destitute. He needs to be supported at once. Rashi compares this to a donkey bearing a heavy load. If the load begins to totter while on the back of the donkey, one person can stabilize it. But after the load falls to the ground and its contents scatter, not even five people will be able to return it to its previous state. What's the conclusion? We must always strive to locate the cracks in a potentially distressful situation, before things deteriorate further.

Many commentators write that this instruction does not only pertain to a financial situation but also to our health, to the relationship with our spouse, to the education of our children and more. It's desirable to address difficulties before they become crises, to detect a problem early and not wait until it worsens. Instead, it makes sense to consider the image of a donkey carrying a heavy load and of offering support, where a little assistance or attention can make a big difference. We must be constantly on the alert, sensitive to problems as they arise, provide support where needed, and never neglect anyone in distress. To open our eyes in relation to ourselves and to others, and to endeavor to see potential problems in advance. Afterwards, it will be a lot more difficult to fix the situation. "You shall support him."

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