Aug 29, 2013

City of Refuge versus Yerushalayim

In a related idea to the previous post, the mishna says that the roads to the arei miklat (cities of refuge) had to be smooth and wide and there had to be signs directing the inadvertent murderer where he had to go.

In contrast, there are no such instructions regarding the roads leading to Yerushalayim for the pilgrims making aliya l'regel.  Why are we helpful to the inadvertent murderer and not to the good Jews going to the Beis Ha'Mikdash?

The answer that's given is, when Jews ask for directions to Yerushalayim, it publicizes the mitzvah and gets other people to join them.  As for the murderer, the Torah wants him in the ir miklat as soon as possible, with the least exposure to other Jews.  The less contact with negativity the better.


  1. You make no mention of Pikuach Nefesh. The guy who killed by mistake has someone chasing him to kill him, "the redeemer of spilled blood". They ought to also hang some pairs of running shoes next to those signs. And don't forget too he who fled must be tried too, to verify it was accidental.

    As for directions to Yerushalayim, it occurs to me that just as there are (10) degrees of sanctity, those degrees also correspond to altitudes. People went UP to Jerusalem - literally. So I guess you could see where you were headed, therefore. And, because they made their presence felt in Yerushalayim 3 times a year, at least, everybody knew the way and you can be sure the ways were well paved.

  2. We are told that when Elkana was oleh regel to Shilo three times every year,"Everywhere he passed, he caused a great commotion." The on-lookers would ask what was going on and he would respond, "We are going to the House of G-d. Why don't you join us?"

    As people saw Elkana's caravan making its way to Shilo in a happy and festive spirit, many indeed did join him. First five families ascended to Shilo, the next year ten and the number increased geometrically. Elkana chose a different route every year and soon people from all over Eretz Yisrael were ascending to Shilo in his wake.

    So apparently, until he did this, aliya l'regel was not practiced by all as a matter of course.