Vertlach: Parshas Masei

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We find in this weeks parsha that Hashem tells Moshe rabbeinu about the mitzvah of designating the arei miklat. An arei miklat is a refugee city for someone who killed another person accidentally. One lives there until the death of the Kohen Gadol and is thus spared from the deceased relatives retaliating against him. Hashem tells Moshe to designate three arei miklat in aiver hayarden and another three in eretzYisroel.

There were only two and a half shevatim on that side of the yarden. Why was there the same number of arei miklat as there was for the rest of klal yisroel in eretz Yisroel? The gemara in Makos answers that since there were many murders there, they had that amount. The question asked by many rishonim is, that the arei miklat was for accidents-not murderers? They answer, that being that the people of those towns were living around death so often-and that murder was so common-many of them lost their appreciation towards human life. Perhaps, had they lived elsewhere the arei miklats would not have been necessary. It seemed that losing a life wasn’t so immoral after all and unfortunately the arei miklats were needed quite often. We see from here how important it is to choose where you live and who you are surrounded by.


The mishna in makkos (9b) says that the three arei miklat that were aiver hayarden were not activated until the three in eretz Yisroel were activated. They didn’t have the ability to protect anyone until the three in eretz Yisroel were set up and ready to be used. But why was it setup like that? Why the need to wait until the three in eretz Yisroel were setup before the ones that were aiver hayarden protected people and why were these three bound and dependent upon the latter?


Meshech Chochma offers a fascinating answer.


A person was to stay in galus until the Kohen Gadol died. The Kohen Gadol at that time was Elazar haKohen. The pasuk specifically prophesies that Elazar haKohen was going to be alive by the dividing of the land, in eretz Yisroel. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind thatElazar was going to be alive at the time when klal yisroel was going to enter into eretz Yisroel. That means that at the time they were inaiver hayarden-had the arei miklat worked -whoever had to run there knew they had no hope of survival because they knew Elazar haKohenwould enter eretz Yisroel alive! The anticipation of being a free man one day was gone! The Torah is sensitive to a person’s feelings, thoughts and emotions. Had the cities been up and running, a refugee would have nothing to hope for all the while the yidden weren’t ineretz Yisroel. Such hopelessness is something the Torah deemed as the worst thing possible for a person. For that, Hashem didn’t allow them to open unless they all did so simultaneously. 


The Ribono Shel Olam will never put us in a galus without the hope of surviving and without having the hope that we will be redeemed. We all know there’s a geulah coming and that alone gives each of us not only the strength to continue but the reason to strive to greater heights. One must never forget that Hashem promised us a geula shleima and that He would never have put us here if not for allowing us to live with that hope. For if we had nothing to look forward to, the arei miklat would have been up and running prior to us entering eretz Yisroel.


May we all be zoche to outlive this galus and to witness the coming of Moshiach-the ultimate redemption-speedily in our days.

HAVE A GREAT SHABBOS.

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