In our sedra, Moshe warns the people ‘You shall go in the ways of HaShem your G-D’ (13;5), regarding which the gemarra (Sotah 14a) asks ‘is it possible to go after the Shechinah, which is referred to as a consuming fire ?’

Rather, says the gemarra, Moshe is telling the people to emulate the traits of HaShem. HaShem clothes the naked, so should we (that’s providing clothes, not a tznius drive). HaShem visits the sick, so should we. HaShem comforts mourners, so should we. HaShem buries the dead, so should we. The idea carries two messages to it. Firstly, this is the source for acting in ways of chesed to one another. But equally pressing is the fact that we are to act with chesed to emulate HaShem’s chesed.

What that means is that we are to do mitzvos bein adam lechaveiro on HaShem’s terms. Let’s briefly explain…



Rav Pinkus used to say that the biggest problem we have in the realm of bein adam lechaveiro is that we do not see them as mitzvos from HaShem, with their pertinent halachos, and so can miss out on their essence. He illustrated with several examples of miztvos bein adam lechaveiro which Chazal saw differently to our perceptions. For example, the mitzvah of visiting the sick actually removes some of the person’s illness, and a major part of the mitzvah is davening for the person to get better . Additionally, a major part of hachnasas orchim is to accompany the person four amos out of your house when they leave – the Rambam (hil. Avel 14;2) says that the reward for this accompanying is greater than hachnasas orchim, comforting mourners, and bikkur cholim. Similarly, hoda’ah (gratitude) means taking on the near-impossible task of thanking someone for the fact that they connected themselves to HaShem via their act of chesed, and not merely for the favour that they did for you. Thus, Chazal describe that one owes ‘your nefesh’ (life) to a person who did a favour for them . Furthermore, the mitzvah of honouring one’s parents includes even not making them sigh/worry. So too, do we not realise the existence of some mitzvos bein adam lechaveiro. For example, it is a mitzvah to smile (I know some people who seem to act like it’s a mitzvah not to smile!), and to pay one’s worker or time – this applies when paying a hairdresser, taxi driver, etc, so one should have this in mind when paying.

The common denominator and theme here is to realise that mitzvos bein adam lecheveiro originate from HaShem too, and are to be seen in the same light as other mitzvos, and to be performed on HaShem’s terms (/halachos), not ours.

Have a great Shabbes!

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