‘One who slays an individual, it as if he destroys the whole world’
The parsha continues to discuss the placement of the different tribes of Israel. The Levites, were not given a land in Israel, like the other tribes because they did not farm the land; they devoted their lives to the service of Hashem. Of the forty eight Levite cities, Hashem commanded that six of them be designed Cities of Refuge for men who committed unintentional murder. Why it is that Hashem placed these refugees with the Levites? Despite the fact that these men had committed murder, even though it was unintentionally done, they were resented by many people of society; however, the Leviites completely understood that all that occurs is in Hashem’s will. They kindly accepted all the refugees into their society. Additionally, Hashem wanted to put these men in an environment where they could be elevated by the kedusha-holiness- that surrounded them—the Levites carried spirituality and kedusha no matter where they were, so to, Hashem’s intention was that their influence would rub off onto the refugees and it would inspire them to repent.
The Torah places extra severity on the sin of committing bloodshed—‘One who slays an individual, it as if he destroys the whole world.’ A person who was killed does not rest until his blood is avenged for, so to, the punishment for murder is adverse, even if murder is committed unintentionally. This parsha unfortunately relates to what has been going on globally. This week, the Jewish world painfully experienced two tragic events: the death of HaRav Elyashiv Ztz”l and the brutal murder of seven Israeli's in a terrorist attack.
Regarding the former, we have lost a great Torah scholar, one that can never be replaced. The mystics teach us that tzadkkim are the foundation of the world. Because they completely immerse every breath and moment of their lives to Torah, they nullify the sins of the community at large.
Regarding the latter, not only was this a hate crime against the nation of Israel, this should be looked at a humanitarian hate crime against our human race. The world cannot continue to tolerate such acts of violence and hate. We have become desensitized to violence and murders that have plagued our world. We many mourn for a moment, but then move on to living our lives. What the Torah comes to teach us is how each person in fact equivalent to that of a whole world. With the crimes that we have been plagued with, it seems as if the world is continuously being destroyed. Unfortunately, we no longer are being protected by HaRav Elyashiv Ztz”l, so we have to look at these events as a wakeup call for action.
In order to shed any light to the people who have tragically lost their lives, and avenge their honor so that they may rest in peace, we can make small improvements in our own lives to sanctify their memory. By committing ourselves to doing slightly more, i.e. take on additional brachot, having more kavona-concentration- when praying, to fulfilling mitzvot with more joy, in the merit of those who have unfortunately perished, we can try to shed some light back into the unfortunate darkness we are currently experiencing.