Friday, July 29, 2011

6 Cities of Refuge and the 42 Cities of the Leviim

The passuk in this week’s sedrah describes the six arei miklat that were designated for an accidental murderer to flee to;
וְהֶעָרִים אֲשֶׁר תִּתֵּנוּ שֵׁשׁ עָרֵי מִקְלָט תִּהְיֶינָה לָכֶם
“And the cities that you give will be six cities of refuge for you.”

Not only did the six cities of refuge allow an accidental murderer to escape to them, but a murderer could also escape to the other 42 cities of the Leviim. The passuk says regarding the cities of the Leviim;
וְאֵת הֶעָרִים אֲשֶׁר תִּתְּנוּ לַלְוִיִּם אֵת שֵׁשׁ עָרֵי הַמִּקְלָט אֲשֶׁר תִּתְּנוּ לָנֻס שָׁמָּה הָרֹצֵחַ וַעֲלֵיהֶם תִּתְּנוּ אַרְבָּעִים וּשְׁתַּיִם עִיר
“And the cities which you will give to the Leviim are the six cities of refuge which you will make so that a murderer can flee there and in addition to them you will give 42 cities.”

The gemara in Makkos (10a) says that we learn from the words “וַעֲלֵיהֶם תִּתְּנוּ” – “in addition to them you shall give” that just as the six cities of refuge shelter a rotzeach, so too do the 42 cities of the Leviim.

However, the Torah does not mention these 42 cities as cities of refuge in the parshah of the arei miklat and only mentions them in the parshah regarding the cities that are given to the Leviim.

Why does the Torah only talk about the six arei miklat in the parsha of the arei miklat and not mention the other 42 cities which the rotzeach can flee to?

 
The Rambam says in the Sefer Ha’Mitzvos (aseh 182);
..שנצטווינו להבדיל שש ערי מקלט שתהיינה מוכנות למכה נפש בשגגה, ושמתקנים את הדרך אליהן ומישרין אותה..."
"..[this mitzvah is] that we are commanded to separate six cities of refuge that should be prepared for one who inadvertently kills somebody, and that they should prepare the roads to the city and straighten them…"

Why does the Rambam limit this mitzvah to protecting the rotzeach by allowing him to run to the six cities? Why does he not also include in this mitzvah ensuring that the rotzeach can run to the 42 cities of the Leviim? There should also be a mitzvah to signpost the roads to the arei haleviim so if a murderer is running he can quickly find his way there?

In the next mitzvah (mitzvah 183) the Rambam says;
...שנצטווינו לתן ערים ללויים לדור בהן, כיון שאין להם חלק בארץ...וגם ערים אלו, כלומר: ערי הלויים, הן ערי מקלט וקולטות בתנאים המיוחדים להן, כמו שנתבאר במכות.
"..[this mitzvah is] that we are commanded to give cities to the Leviim to live in because they have no portion in the land…And these cities as well, that is, the cities of the Leviim are cities of refuge and provide refuge under certain conditions as is explained in Makkos.”

The Rambam is referring to the gemara in Makkos (10a) which says;
...אמר אביי הללו קולטות בין לדעת בין שלא לדעת הללו לדעת קולטות שלא לדעת אינן קולטות
"Abaye says – the six cities of refuge protect the murderer whether or not he intends to take refuge there, however the 42 cities of the Leviim only protect the murderer if he intends to take refuge."

· The Rambam does not generally describe details of mitzvos in Sefer ha’Mitzvos. Why does he refer to this specific detail for this mitzvah?

Rb Meir Rozmarin explains as follows;
In the beginning of the parsha describing the cities given to the Leviim the passuk says;
צַו אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְנָתְנוּ לַלְוִיִּם מִנַּחֲלַת אֲחֻזָּתָם עָרִים לָשָׁבֶת
“Command the benei yisrael and they should give to the Leviim from their inheritance cities to live in.”

The parshah continues;
... וְאֵת הֶעָרִים אֲשֶׁר תִּתְּנוּ לַלְוִיִּם אֵת שֵׁשׁ עָרֵי הַמִּקְלָט אֲשֶׁר תִּתְּנוּ לָנֻס שָׁמָּה הָרֹצֵחַ וַעֲלֵיהֶם תִּתְּנוּ אַרְבָּעִים וּשְׁתַּיִם עִיר.
“And the cities that you give to the Leviim, the six cities of refuge which you give so that a rotzeach can flee there and in addition to them you should give 42 cities.”

At the end of the parshah the passuk says;
וְהֶעָרִים אֲשֶׁר תִּתְּנוּ מֵאֲחֻזַּת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵאֵת הָרַב תַּרְבּוּ וּמֵאֵת הַמְעַט תַּמְעִיטוּ אִישׁ כְּפִי נַחֲלָתוֹ אֲשֶׁר יִנְחָלוּ יִתֵּן מֵעָרָיו לַלְוִיִּם.
“And the cities that you give from the inheritance of the benei yisrael from the many [who have a large area of land] you should take many cities and from the few [who have a small area of land] each man according to his inheritance which they shall inherit should give from his cities to the Leviim.”

It seems from the pessukim that the mitzvah to give more cities to the Leviim from a larger shevet and less from a smaller shevet only applies to the 42 cities of the Leviim, not to the 6 cities of refuge which were spaced evenly in Eretz Yisrael (see gemara makkos 9b on the passuk תָּכִין לְךָ הַדֶּרֶךְ וְשִׁלַּשְׁתָּ אֶת גְּבוּל אַרְצְך).

Rb Rozmarin explains that the primary purpose of the six cities was to be a place of refuge. The Torah gave these cities of refuge to the Leviim. With the 42 cities of the Leviim it was the other way round. The Torah gave these cities to the Leviim because they had no land, these cities also protected a rotzeach. Just as a rotzeach can run to the top of the mizbeach and be sheltered, so too a rotzeach could run to the arei haleviim and be sheltered, however the arei ha’leviim were not arei miklat. This is why the rotzeach had to have intention that the arei haleviim should protect him but not with the arei miklat, because in the case of the arei miklat, the actual place was set aside for a murderer to run to. Therefore as soon as the rotzeach was inside the place, they were protected.

However in the case of the arei haleviim, they were not places that were designated for a rotzeach to run to. Rather the halachah is that a rotzeach can shelter in the arei haleviim, just as a rotzeach can shelter on the mizbeach. Simply being in the place did not protect the rotzeach as this was not the function of the place, rather he had to intend to be protected.

Therefore;
  • The six cities were evenly spaced as they were designed to protect the rotzeach, not so the 42 cities which were given to the leviim acording to the size of the shevet.  
  • The Torah only talks about the six arei miklat in the parsha of the arei miklat and not the other 42 cities, because the other 42 cities were not specifically designated for a rotzeach to flee to. Rather this is an incidental function of the other 42 cities, just as a rotzeach can flee to the mizbeach.
  • The Rambam limits the mitzvah of setting aside cities to protect the rotzeach to the six cities because the 42 were set aside for the Leviim, they were not specifically meant for a rotzeach.
  • The Rambam in the Sefer ha’Mitzvos says that the arei haleviim only protected the rotzeach if he intended to be sheltered there because he is telling you that being sheltered is not the purpose of the arei haleviim, which is why they would not protect the rotzeach automatically.

 This is why there is also no mitzvah to prepare the road and signpost the arei haleviim, becuase they are not specifically meant to save the rotzeach bishegagah.

1 comment:

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