Walk This Way

You should prepare the way … that every murderer shall flee there. (Devarim 19:3)

The Torah laws about the treatment of an accidental murderer are unique in the world. Man-made law could never imagine the parameters set by our Holy Book in regard to the perpetrator of the death of another. The killer may flee to a city of refuge wherein the relatives are not permitted to kill him in revenge for the death of their loved one. If the murderer fails to enter a refuge city before a relative can catch him then the pursuer may kill the killer.

The Torah commands the people of Israel to set signposts along the roads that indicate the safe haven to the fleeing killer. Anyone traveling the roads of the Holy Land in the times of the Sanhedrin could see the many directional signs that filled the roads. Rav Chamma bar Hanina said: “If for the wicked, Hashem shows the path to a refuge from harm, then certainly He does so for the righteous.”

Where are the signs that Hashem provides for us in our generation?

Halachah” means “law,” but it also means “the way to walk.” If anyone has a question about which way to proceed in almost any life situation, one should consult Halachah.

When Yaakov Avinu fell asleep on the Temple Mount he had a prophetic dream that revealed to him the destiny of himself and his offspring throughout history. When he awoke and realized the holy nature of the place where he had slept, he exclaimed: “Had I known, I would not have slept in such a holy place!” The import of this statement to all Jews at all times is that Yaakov our Patriarch was willing to forgo an essential prophetic message and a promise from Hashem to protect him wherever he would travel in his personal exile and to protect his children throughout their future exiles if receiving this message meant he had to violate the sanctity of the Temple Mount by sleeping there. If Halachah forbids sleeping in that holy place — so be it. Yaakov Avinu would have found another place to rest.

A young man was preparing to go to Eretz Yisrael to study Torah. His father accompanied him to the home of their Rav in order to request a blessing for a safe, successful trip.

The young man stood motionless as the Rav put his hand on the young man’s head and whispered a brief phrase. Even though the Rav had removed his hand from the young man’s head, the boy kept his head down within reach of the Rav. He assumed that the Rav had merely paused, thinking about what to say, and would continue.

The Rav told the young man he was done and he could stand upright again. Seeing the surprise on the faces of his two guests, the Rav smiled and said, “Would you like to know what brachah I gave you?”

The two nodded and the Rav said, “I blessed you that you should grow to be like your father. Do you know what that means?”

The young man said, “I guess that I should be honest, learn Torah and do a lot of chessed.”

“No! That’s not what I meant. I blessed you that you should emulate your father by always asking what the Halachah requires of you. Your father calls me all the time from his office, his home and even when he is away from home. He always calls and asks what to do. That’s the road to success in Judaism. Ask!”

In every person’s life there are crossroads, points where decisions that are crucial to success or failure in career, marriage, physical health and spiritual growth must be made. Where should one turn? What direction should one take? Look for the road signs provided by our Heavenly Father. Check with an authority what the Halachah dictates in your personal situation and follow the sign to success. Life’s roads are very confusing and each person has difficulties that may lead him or her down the wrong path to a dead end or, chas v’shalom, to disaster. By following Halachah one is assured that the path will lead to the end that is best under the circumstances.

Shabbat shalom.