It's a rather common sight here in Joburg- a taxi zooming past with at least40% more load than it should have. The rear bumper is a millimeter from the ground as the daredevil driver zigzags through peak-hour traffic.
Apparently, this isn't a new phenomenon.
According to this week's Torah portion, overloaded donkeys were a problem in Biblical times. Such a problem, that the Torah tells us how to address it:
"If you see your enemy's donkey struggling under its load and you (want to) desist from assiting it, you shall surely help him."
Notice: Your enemy's donkey still needs your help.
Chamor- Hebrew for donkey- is strongly linked to Chomer, the Hebrew for matter.
This sheds a whole new light on the message of the donkey-overload, according to the Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chassidic movement.
It means: As you grow spiritually, you might find your Chomer- your instinctive, physical self -taking strain. Each time you try to move forward, improve and transcend it cries "exhaustion".
Your body and its physical interests seem to interfere with your spiritual progresss. You are trying to rise, yet bogged down by the "enemy".
You might consider punishing your body, to speed the spiritual process. Fasting, derpriving yourself of sleep or ignoring your health may sound holy. All are wrong.
Says the Torah, "Help him". Work with your Chomer, inspire your Self to become your partner. When you know how to use a donkey, it can carry more than you can- for a farther distance.