וטעם וחי אחיך עמך שיחיה עמך והיא מצות עשה להחיותו שממנה נצטוינו על פקוח נפש במצות עשה ומכאן אמרו (תו"כ פרשה ה ג) וחי אחיך עמך זו דרש בן פוטירי שנים שהיו מהלכין בדרך וביד אחד מהם קיתון של מים אם שותה הוא מגיע לישוב ואם שניהם שותים שניהם מתים דרש בן פוטירי מוטב ישתו שניהם וימותו ולא יראה אחד במיתתו של חבירו עד שבא רבי עקיבא ולמד וחי אחיך עמך חייך קודמים לחיי חבירך וחזר ואמר (ויקרא כ״ה:ל״ו) וחי אחיך עמך לחזק ולהזהיר ומדרשו (ב"מ סב) אהדר ליה רבית דליחיי עמך צוה בהחזרת רבית קצוצה כענין שאמר בגזל (ויקרא ה׳:כ״ג) והשיב את הגזילה אשר גזל ואונקלוס (תרגום אונקלוס על ויקרא כ״ה:ל״ה) עשה "גר ותושב וחי עמך" הכל מן המצוה ידור ויתותב ויחי עמך אבל על דעת רבותינו בגמרא (ב"מ עא) והחזקת בו ובגר ותושב וחי כל אחד מהם עמך: THAT HE MAY LIVE WITH THEE. The meaning thereof is that he [i.e., the stranger or settler]204See Note 33 in my Hebrew Commentary pp. 180-181, that this is the correct interpretation of the intent of Ramban. Thus the expression before us speaks of our duty to help the stranger and settler, “and surely [this duty applies to] one of our brethren of the children of Israel, who had become poor.” It is from this positive commandment that he may live with thee that we derive the principle that the saving of life overrides the Sabbath etc., as Ramban continues. shall [be enabled to] live with you, it being a positive commandment to support him, and it is from here [that we deduce] that we are commanded by means of a positive commandment to save life. It is from here too, that the Sages have said:205Torath Kohanim, Behar 5:3. Baba Metzia 62 a. “That thy brother may live with thee.206Verse 36. This was explained by Ben Peturi: If two people were going on a journey [in the desert], and one of them has a pitcher of water which [contains such an amount that] if he [alone] drinks it, [it would suffice to enable him to] reach an inhabited place, but if both drink from it, both would die. Ben Peturi stated: ‘It is better that both should drink and die, rather than that one should witness the death of his colleague,’ until Rabbi Akiba came and taught: that thy brother may live with thee206Verse 36. — thy life takes precedence over the life of thy colleague.”
He repeated [the phrase] that thy brother may live with thee,206Verse 36. in order to emphasize and stress [that we are not to take from him any interest or increase, as is stated in the first part of that verse]. And the Rabbinical interpretation is as follows:207Baba Metzia 62 a. “Return to him the interest, so that he may live with you.” Thus He commanded the return of [previously] stipulated interest, similar to that which He said in the case of robbery, and he shall restore that which he took by robbery.208Above, 5:23. Interest is only forbidden by law of the Torah if it is previously stipulated, i.e., at the time of the loan, although the Rabbis forbade all interest.
Now Onkelos rendered ‘geir v’thoshav vachai imach’ [generally translated: a stranger and a settler that he may live with thee] as part of the positive commandments [enumerated here, thus meaning:] “he shall sojourn and settle and live with you.”209The sense of the verse according to Onkelos is thus as follows: And if thy brother be waxen poor, and his means fail with thee — then thou shalt uphold him. And the verse continues to explain how you are to uphold him: “he is to sojourn and settle and live with thee.” But according to the Rabbis, as Ramban continues, the sense of the verse is etc. But according to the opinion of our Rabbis in the Gemara,210Baba Metzia 71a. See my Hebrew Commentary p. 181. the sense of the verse is as follows: [“And if thy brother be waxen poor …] then thou shalt uphold him, and [thou shalt also uphold] a stranger and a settler, so that each one of them shall live with thee.”