By Five Towns Marriage Initiative
In this week’s parashah, Masei, the building of the arei miklat, the cities of refuge for those who killed by accident, is discussed. The Sefer HaMussar V’hada’as discusses how even when a person falls, he is not pushed away from serving Hashem. He points out that a person who falls to the point of killing by negligence is given a place to run away to, and not just any place, but a city of Levi’im, those who were chosen to serve Hashem. He becomes surrounded by positive influences that can help him better his ways and improve his actions.
The sefer brings an example of a load that is sliding off a donkey. If a person tries to steady the load, he can generally succeed on his own. Once it falls off the donkey, though, it is possible that even five people would not be able to pick it up. Similarly, if a person falls in spiritual matters, it is imperative that he strengthen himself and that those around him assist him. If the downward spiral in spirituality is left to continue, it will reach a point where it will become much harder to get back on track.
The people we surround ourselves with have a powerful influence on us. The ir miklat was full of Levi’im to have a positive influence on the person who killed by negligence. This represented the hope that these people fleeing to these cities would improve their ways. A negligent killing does not happen without a reason. The fact that a person does not kill others in this way is due to Heavenly assistance, and if a person did not merit that assistance, it would not be without reason. Hence, on whatever level, the person needs to mend his ways, and Hashem prepares for this person the most ideal setup to this end.
We can learn from this to surround ourselves by positive influences and to be a positive influence for others. Most importantly, we should work to become a better influence for our spouses and children, so that our homes can be places that continuously merit Heavenly assistance. ϖ
Five Towns Marriage Initiative provides educational programs, workshops, and referrals to top marriage therapists. FTMI will help offset counseling costs when necessary and also runs an anonymous shalom bayis hotline for the entire community Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings, 10:00–11:00 p.m. For the hotline or for more information, call 516-430-5280 or e‑mail email@example.com.