‘You should prepare a way and divide your surroundings into three portions…and it should be for a person who kills accidentally to run there’. (19; 3)
The above pasuk is talking about someone who accidentally kills another person; he should have a safe place to run, to where the relatives of the deceased can’t avenge the death of their family member. The pasuk elaborates on the subject and makes a point to say that the roads should have signs to tell one exactly where to go, if needed.
There’s a story brought down from the Chofetz Chaim:
There were once two people that came to the city of Radin, where the Chofetz Chaim lived, to collect money. One person came to collect for mosdos hatorah and for chesed organizations while the second man came to collect for secular organizations. The latter went around and after two or three days left the town with bundles of money. In the meantime, the first meshulach was having a very difficult time collecting and found himself there a little longer than he had originally intended. He was getting anxious and nervous and decided to go to talk with the Chofetz Chaim.
He approached the Chofetz Chaim and told him what was bothering him. The Chofetz Chaim told him the following. In this weeks parsha it says-by the arei miklat-that there should be signs that say exactly where they are located and it should be simple for one to get there. However, when klal Yisroel is being oleh regel there weren’t any signs with directions to the Beis Hamikdash. Why not? Why by the arei miklat was there exact directions and none at all to show klal Yisroel how to get to the Beis Hamikdash?
The Chofetz Chaim answered as follows – an arei miklat was the intended destination of a murderer. The Torah didn’t want a murderer conversing with people. Hashem didn’t want him talking to people. Not for a drink, not for a ride, not even for directions! He should have absolutely no need to talk to anyone. We make it so simple that he doesn’t have to ask anyone were to go, what to do or even utter a word. On the other hand by oleh regel, it’s the exact opposite. We want him to converse and to ask people directions and to meet people and to make a ‘roshem’, an impression, on others to also go to the Beis Hamikdash. We want people to say…”Oh…where are you going…to the Beis Hamikdash? Wow, let’s also go and bring a Korban.” So in order for this to occur the Torah didn’t post any signs as to how to get to the Har Habayis.
Said the Chofetz Chaim, that secular collector who came and left within two days with money is like an arei miklat. He came; he was here for two or three days, and left. Hashem didn’t want him to be around and to be mashpia on others with his nonsense. Hashem didn’t want him trying to “recruit” people to follow in his secular and foolish ways. It could be he was trying to sell us on his religious movements and trying to turn us towards the “other side”. But you are different, Hashem wants you around. He wants people to ask you, to see you-to get to know you. Maybe you can have a hashpa’ah on them, who knows?
The lesson we learn from here is extremely valuable. Do we really realize how much our own everyday actions can have an impact on others? People are often mistaken and they say, “It’s not a big deal” or “it’s only just one time”. However, all you need is “one time” and then, like the flip of a switch; you can change someone’s life. We must realize that as humans all of our actions are being watched, for good or for bad; be it a neighbor, chavrusa, colleague, boss or partner.
It’s important to keep this in mind as we just begin chodesh Elul, a time when we need all of our actions to be for the good and to help us tip the scale, for the better. We must always be aware that what we do can change a person’s life for the better at any given moment.
HAVE A GREAT SHABBOS.
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