This week we read Parshas Mishpatim. This is the Parsha, in which the Torah discusses many of the financial and ethical obligations and responsibilities that a Jew has. One of the mitzvohs that we are taught is that if we see an animal of (even) our enemy, “azov taazov imo – you shall help him unload it. (Exodus 23:5) The commentaries teach us that certainly if we see a person who is struggling with a load, we must help him.
One of the students of Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, the alter of Slabodka, told over the following incident. A short time after his wedding, the alter asked him if he helps his wife on Friday afternoons to prepare for Shabbos. The student answered “Certainly!! There is a great mitzvah to prepare for Shabbos!! Our Sages tell us that one must personally be involved in the preparations for the holy Shabbos.”
The Alter responded, “Is this the only reason that you are helping? Did you forget a Torah commandment? If we have to help even an enemy to unburden his animal, how much more must we help a spouse. Certainly this is the case when it is right before Shabbos, and the pressure of preparing for Shabbos is so great.