An installment in the series
From the Waters of the Shiloah: Plumbing the Depths of the Izhbitzer School
For series introduction click.
By Rabbi Dovid Schwartz
The Mitzvah of earmarking Refuge Cities is introduced in Parshas Ma’asei: (B’Midbar 35:6) Along with the cities that you shall give to the Levi’im, shall be the six refuge cities, places to which a murderer can flee. Beside these you shall give (the Levi’im) forty two more cities.
Why must Refuge Cities be manned and operated by Levi’im and not by any of the other tribes of Yisrael? Based on the Izhbitzers teachings Rav Tzadok, the Kohen of Lublin, offers this fascinating approach:
A. The Mishna in Avos 4:21 teaches that there are three primary roots of sin: “ Kina-Fury-infused-jealousy, Ta’avah-lust and Kavod-respect-chasing”. Each of these sin-roots find their Tikun-amelioration through various drastic and meaningful changes. Shiniu Makom-a change of location, Shinui Ma’aseh-a change in behavioral patterns or Shinui HaShem-a change in name/ identity.
B. For everything that exists in the sphere of Kedusha there exists something corresponding to it in the adversarial sphere of impurity/ entropy. As the Pasuk in Koheles (7:14) states: “In the day of goodness be of good spirit and in the day of evil calamity reflect; for Elokim has reciprocally patterned these opposite those… “
Allowed free reign and taken to its logical conclusion fury-infused-jealousy (Kina) results in homicide, the irreversible removal of the target of the jealous fury. The Tikun for this particular sin-root is “change of location”. This is why the Torah imposed exile to be metaken the sin of manslaughter. And yet, the Torah does not demand a nomadic life of perpetual, rootless wandering to accomplish this tikun*. Instead, it provides for a refuge city. This is because fury-infused-jealousy has an “upside” that can find expression in the sphere of Kedusha. Holy Kina is rooted in Yitzchok Avinus trait of Gevura. Among other things it manifests itself in, “[When] a Talmid Chacham gets incensed it is the heat of the Torah within him boiling over” (Ta’anis 4A). This is why Torah dictates that these cities be inhabited by Levi’im, as they are one of the tribes whom Yaakov Avinu had branded as furious*.
It is well known that the commandments of “Do not kill” and “Do not commit adultery” are polar opposites. When emanating from the sphere of Kedusha, fury-infused-jealousy is antithetical to sins of lust *. No doubt Yosef HaTzadik, who embodies the definitive sacred suppression of lust, employed “holy” fury to withstand the greatest of lustful temptations in history. Holy fury is a spiritual legacy that Yosef bequeathed to all of Israel, but most of all to his own tribal descendants *. Ramot-Gilead and Shechem were both cities located within tribal homelands of Yosef and where, per Chaza”l, there was a lopsided number of murderers (Malkos 9B-10A).
It is no coincidence that both became refuge cities. By dint of spiritual genetics there was a disproportionate degree of “the boiling-over heat of the Torah” in the tribal homelands of Yosef that concentrated most of all in and around the cities of Ramot-Gilead and Shechem. But when fury expands beyond the boundaries of holiness into the sphere of impurity/ entropy it can result in manslaughter, the ultimate expression of fury-infused-jealousy. As “HaShem does not make unreasonable demands on His creatures” (Avodah Zarah 3A) Ramot-Gilead and Shechem became refuge cities to better accommodate the “hereditary” spike in manslaughter cases to be expected in those regions.
Rav Tzadok continues: “I heard an insight on the Pasuk (Shir HaShirim 6:5) ‘Your hair is as a flock of goats, cascading down from Gilead’ from my Master, the holy Izhbitzer. It is well-known, hair symbolizes Gevura-strength and Dinim–strict, pitiless justice*. These derive their holiness from Mt. Gilead.”
Space constraints do not allow for an explanation of how a change in behavioral patterns ameliorates lust or how a change in name/ identity ameliorates respect-chasing. For a full and fascinating treatment of these refer to the source.
Adapted from Tzidkas HaTzadik 80
to accomplish this tikun . As was demanded of Kayin, histories first murderer. Strikingly, Kayins fratricide was motivated by fury-infused-jealousy. See Bereshis 4:8-12
branded as furious. See Bereshis 49:5-7
antithetical to sins of lust. In explaining why the Nazir must grow his hair long The Mei HaShiloach (Beha’aloscha D.H. V’He’eviru) states: The Talmud (Kidushin 40A) teaches that if a person feels that he may succumb to the evil inclination for lust that he “should cloak himself in black”. This means he that he should force Marah Shechora– melancholy upon himself, depression being nothing more than an inward-directed anger. The Zohar teaches that hair is indicative of anger. The Nazir, attempting to address a tendency for ta’avah-lust must arouse himself to anger to defeat and suppress this tendency. Thus, he must grow out his hair.
his own tribal descendants. Compare Takanat HaShavin page 47 D.H. U’V’hiyos
strength and Dinim – strict, pitiless justice. See the above note on “antithetical to sins of lust”