by Reb Gutman Locks
This week's Torah portion tells us in a number of ways that we are responsible for each other. We are to help our brother pick up his fallen donkey and to return his lost items. "You shall not see the donkey of your brother or his ox falling on the road and hide yourself from them; you shall surely stand them up, with him."[i] We are not allowed to hide ourselves from these tasks.
Even though the vast majority of Torah observant Jews would run to obey these commands with a lost or fallen donkey, so very few see that the Torah is also telling us to help pick up our fellow Jew's lost or fallen soul.
One of the main reasons a Jew might shy away from this task is that the Jew who lost his donkey, or whose donkey has fallen, sees that his property is in danger, and he wants you to help him. Most often, though, he does not understand that his fallen soul is in worse danger than his fallen donkey. Still, we are obligated to try to help him to pick up his lost soul.
The soul of a Jew is unique. It is pure[ii] and wants only to fulfill the will of the Creator, but the Jew's animal inclination insists on being an animal, and it drags the holy soul into the street.
Each time the animal wins, a veil covers the holy soul. Veil after veil hides the soul's holiness from the world. This makes it easier for the animal to win again and again. But when the Jew does a mitzvah, a veil or two falls away. This allows some of its holiness to shine out again. This then makes it easier for the holy soul to influence its animal inclination to cooperate and to do another mitzvah.
But the veiled soul needs help. It has been dragged around by its animal for so long that it has all but forgotten its holy nature. It is our job to remind the Jew that his soul is holy, and we are to help him to shed some of the veils that cover this holiness.
When you share a mitzvah with a fallen soul make sure you show him the joy in the mitzvah. This will remove more veils than just doing the physical mitzvah. And the best way to show him the joy in doing a mitzvah is for you to first find it yourself.