Parshas Shoftim – The City of Refuge

This week in the Torah:

The Mitzvah of having Cities of Refuge in Israel, so that a person who kills accidentally can be safe there from the close relative of the deceased. This relative can kill him if he leaves this city. The verse adds that when Israel will grow in size (when Moshiach comes) it will be necessary to add three more such cities in the added expanse of land.

First question:

What kind of killing might there be when Moshiach comes?? No one will even accidentally kill and no one will deserve, G-d forbid, to be killed. Hence, why the need for more Cities of Refuge for (accidental) killers – when Moshiach comes?


The killer in this case will be seeking refuge from a killing that happened before Moshiach comes.

Second question:

Refuge is needed to escape the wrath of the deceased’s relative. When Moshiach comes, G-dly wisdom will be the sole occupation of everyone. What threat, then, could the relative possibly represent when he will only want G-d in his life?


It is the Torah itself that suggests (and according to some opinions – commands) the relative to exact “revenge” (in a case where the killer leaves the City of Refuge) in order to wipe away the negative act of (accidental) killing. (See Numbers (35:27-33): “The land will not allow atonement for spilled blood, except with the blood of he who spilled it.”) Hence, as it is Torah inspired, this drive to avenge could represent a threat to the killer, even when Moshiach comes.


The Torah and the month of Elul (the 30 days prior to Rosh Hashanah) are referred to by our Sages as “Cities of Refuge” in which one may find atonement, and refuge from the evil inclination. The holiness of Torah, and of the month of Elul, protects the soul and bolsters its strength to truly repent and reaffirm its oneness with G-d.

(Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 24, Shoftim)

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