Dvar Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states: “If a person steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he must pay five oxen for an ox and four sheep for the sheep” (Exodus 21:37).
Why is the fine for stealing a sheep less than the fine for stealing an ox? What lesson can we learn from this for our lives?
Rashi, the great 13th century commentator, cites the Sages of the Talmud that the reason the thief pays less for a sheep is that he has to carry it on his shoulders to run away faster when stealing it. Running with a sheep on one’s shoulders in public is embarrassing and this embarrassment is a partial punishment in itself.
Rabbi Simcha Zissel of Kelm comments that if even a coarse thief experiences a slight embarrassment which lightens the punishment, then all the more so if one suffers embarrassment or humiliation while doing a good deed, the action is elevated and the reward will be very great!
Our lesson: According to the pain and difficulty of performing a mitzvah is the reward. If others mock or denigrate your efforts to do a mitzvah, then focus not on the temporal pain but the greatness and the eternity of the reward!