Dvar Torah Parshat Masei 5774 2014

We read this week about the ערי מקלט, the Cities of Refuge. Six cities were to be designated as places of refuge for someone who killed another person accidentally. Three of these cities were to be named on either side of the Jordan. If the homicide was intentional and the necessary legal evidence was presented the killer was to be put to death. If he killed unintentionally, he is still responsible and has to flee to one of these specified cities and live there.

The question that presents itself is why he must be punished in this fashion when he did not intend to do anyone harm. It was merely an accident that he killed.

We can learn from this that a person is always responsible for all his acts. Chazal say: אדם מועד לעולם, “a person is always liable”. (BK 26a) One may think that he is exempt from hurting others if he did not intentionally act to do so. The Halachah, however, says otherwise. If you damaged or hurt someone intentionally or accidentally, you are liable for the damage you cause. A person should always be on guard and anticipate what may be the results of his actions.

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