Ki Tetzei (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19 )
It had been a long day with few customers. With a sigh the shopkeeper headed towards the shutters, wondering how long his business would survive. As he approached the window, a young man walked in – a glimmer of hope. Perhaps his day would be more successful than he had thought...
Every shopkeeper understands that people window shop, browse, and eye potential purchases. But causing the shopkeeper to experience anticipation followed by disappointment, by expressing interest in buying something with no intention whatsoever of purchasing, is forbidden by Torah law. (Sefer Hachinuch)
The Torah extends this sensitivity as far as even to a simple donkey. ‘You shall not plow with an ox and donkey together (Deut. 22:10)'.
When a donkey hears the ox regurgitating its cud and chewing it again, it mistakenly thinks that just as the ox was just fed, now he'll be fed too. (Daat Zekeinim M’Baalei Tosfot) Like the shop keeper who was let down, this causes the donkey anticipation followed by disappointment.
What a lesson in sensitivity.
How careful we must be not to cause even a slight amount of pain or disappointment to someone!
(Adapted from The Glittering World of Chesed by Rabbi Pesach J. Khron)