By Michael Hirsch
We are familiar with the Thirteen Attributes of G-D (merciful, kind, etc.). As G-D’s People, we are expected to mirror those traits.
A perfect example is presented to us in this week’s Parasha. The Torah (Deuteronomy 20:5-8) lists four reasons why a man will be exempted from serving in the army, as it is about to go out to war.
1) Someone who has built a home, but not yet moved in;
2) someone who has planted a vineyard, but not yet harvested the first crop;
3) a man who has become engaged to a woman, but has not yet married her and;
4) one who is fearful, deathly afraid of participating in battle.
Rashi (20:8) relates the Talmudic discourse that this fourth type of individual, the weak of spirit, is sent back home with the other three types, so he will not be embarrassed. Someone seeing him leave the army camp will assume he either built a home, planted a vineyard, or became engaged.
A concrete lesson for all of us as to the lengths we must go to ensure that we not embarrass our fellow man. It’s “human” to tease someone, to razz them, to make them the brunt of our jokes, but G-D has made it clear through the machinations He designed to protect the feelings of the “rach lei’vav” (the weak of heart/backbone) how far we must go to protect our fellow human beings from embarrassment. “He who causes the color to go out of his friend’s face has no share in the World to Come”!!