Friday, July 25, 2014

Mas'ei 5634 First Ma'amar

The Midrash[1] on this week’s parsha states a Halacha regarding cities of refuge.  Beis Din is required to post signs so that people who have killed know how to reach the cities.  The Midrash cites a pasuk regarding this, “טוב וישר ה׳ על כן יורה חטאים בדרך/Good and upright is God; He therefore guides sinners on the way.” (Tehillim 25:8

The Hebrew word for sinners is חוטאים.  Why does the pasuk use the word חטאים/sins instead?  In fact, Chazal note this in another pasuk in Tehillim (104:35), “יתמו חטאים מן הארץ .../Sinners will cease from the land …”  The Talmud[2] relates that Rebbi Meir lived in a rough neighborhood. Thugs bothered him and he prayed for their demise.  His wife Bruria castigated him saying that he should instead pray that they repent because the pasuk does not call for the demise of the sinners, rather for the end of sin – Sins will cease from the land.  Clearly, our pasuk as well is referring to sins and not sinners.  But what, then, is the meaning of our pasuk.  In what way does God guide sins?  Are sins entities that can be guided?

Chazal[3] teach us that when one sins, a spiritual entity is created that works to that person’s detriment.  Punishment for sin is not only because a person rebelled against God.  Punishment is a direct consequence of the sin.  The sin causes the punishment, through the spiritual entity it creates, in a very real and direct way.  Therefore, even when there is no rebellion against God such as when a person commits a sin unwittingly, that sin still needs rectification to get rid of the spiritual entity created by the sin.  This is the reason that a person who kills someone without intent is exiled.  Exile is the rectification for the sin of killing without intent.

Why is exile the rectification for killing without intent?  The Chiddushei HaRim explains.  An exile recognizes that he has no place to be.  A person who killed someone, essentially, removed him from this world.  As a result that person is punished by losing his place in this world as well.  If the person killed with intent, he is killed.  If he killed without intent, he is exiled.  Exile is also a form of removing the exile from his place.  Paradoxically, when a person realizes what he did to another person and comes to the conclusion that he, as well, has lost his privilege to a place in this world, God’s grants him a place albeit in exile.

Rav Moshe Cordeveiro in his work Tomer Devorah[4] states that nothing can exist without shefa from God.  How then does the spiritual entity that the sin created exist?  God can say to the spiritual entity to go to the one who created it and live off him.  This would cause incredible suffering for that person.  Instead, God, in his great kindness, gives shefa to the spiritual entity created by the sin allowing the sinner time to repent.  This is the meaning of our pasuk, “... יורה חטאים בדרך .../… He guides ‘sins’ on the way …”  May we merit using the space God has given us to rectify our sins and return to Him.  Amen!

[1] Bamidbar R. 23:13
[2] Brachos 10a
[3] Avos 4:11
[4] Tomer Devorah Chapter 1, ד"ה הב' – נושא עון.  He explains that this is the meaning of נושא עון/carrying sin.  God in his mercy carries the sin so that the sinner is not destroyed by it thereby giving him a chance to repent.


Anonymous said...

"lost his privilege to a place in
this world"

meanwhile the Kohen Gadol (35.25) guards not only his privilege to a place in this world, he is further privileged to inhabit THE Place/HaMakome in this world-- but he is confined to that place (M.T.,Kli HaMikdash, 5.7)!

opposite the KG resides the rotzeach b'shogeg who, for a single act of negligence, is confined to an ir miklat, sentenced to meditate/rely from
there on the life of his high
priest, on a life intensively &
continuously scrupulous; when that Kohen Gadol dies-- & so knows no more geographic restriction-- the inadvertent killer's meditation/reliance/
"rectification" is complete

Moshe David Tokayer said...

Nice. Yashar Ko'ach!