Thursday, August 16, 2018






Once, two collectors arrived and began circulating the small village of Radin simultaneously. One was soliciting funds for a secular organization in Eretz Yisroel, while the other was collecting for poor families of b’nei Torah.

The first collector was only in town for a short time, because after knocking on the doors of just a few wealthy patrons, he received all the money he needed and was able to return home. The other collector however, had a difficult time going from door to door, accepting small contributions. After a few days the frustrated collector made an appointment to see the Chofetz Chaim. 

He asked the Chofetz Chaim why he had such a difficult time collecting funds for such an important organization, while the collector who solicited fund for an organization That didn’t promote Torah values was able to collect everything he needed so easily.


The Chofetz Chaim replied by noting that in Parshas Shoftim, the Torah instructs that cities be set aside as cities of refuge (Arei Miklat).[1] The Torah[2] states: “You shall prepare the way for yourself and divide the border of your land into three parts that every murderer may flee there.” The Gemara[3] explains that the roads leading to the Cities of Refuge must be clearly paved and marked off with big clearly visible signs.

There was also a commandment for every Jew to be Oleh Regel (i.e. the tri-annual pilgrimage to the Bais Hamikadsh during the three major holidays every year). However, we do not find any specific commandment that the roads leading to Yerushalayim be clearly paved and marked.

The Chofetz Chaim explained that the Torah didn't want people to have too much contact with a murderer, even if it was an accidental murder. If the murderer has to constantly ask for directions, people will realize why he is fleeing there. Even incidental contact with a murderer causes mitigation of one’s sensitivity towards life.

Therefore, the road was accessible and clear so that he should get there as quickly as possible without coming into contact with too many people along the way.

On the other hand, one going to Yerushalayim to be Oleh Regel is on his way to perform a great mitzvah, and to spend the Yom Tov in the presence of G-d with the entire nation. On that situation we want the pilgrim to ask people where Yerushalayim is so that they will spread the word about the mitzvah they are involved in.

          The Chofetz Chaim continued that the same was true regarding his situation. The first collector, who was collecting for a secular organization. Therefore, Hashem made it easy for him to solicit the necessary funds, so he will leave town quickly and not influence people by telling them about the purpose of his organization. The second collector however, was soliciting funds to support Torah scholars and mitzvah observance. Therefore, it is spiritually beneficial for him to discuss the matter with as many people as possible.


In a similar vein, Rav Itzile of Volozhin zt’l explained that the roads to Yerushalayim weren’t clearly marked. In this way when those ascending to make the pilgrimage to Yerushalayim would ask for directions, it would influence those along the way to join them.

The Navi relates that that’s what happened when Elkana (the father of Shmuel) would go to Yerushalayim before each holiday.

Rav Itzile notes that when the nations of the world build their houses of worship they do so upon the highest mountains, so that they are visible from afar. The Gemara[4] notes that the Bais Hamikdash however, was not constructed upon a high mountain.

This is what the pasuk[5] means when it states, “You shall not do so for Hashem, your G-d. Only to the place that Hashem has chosen... shall you seek out His Presence and come there.”

“You shall not do so for Hashem” refers to constructing the Mikdash upon the highest mountain. It shouldn’t be in the most conspicuous location, in order that “you shall seek out His Presence”; you will have to inquire and search for its whereabouts.


In the opening words of Shaarei Teshuva, Rabbeinu Yonah writes: “One is the greatest goods that Hashem, blessed is He, granted His creation is that he prepared for them the path of teshuva, that they are able to rise from within the pit of their negative deeds, and to escape from the trap of their sins; to save their souls from destruction and to turn back His anger from them.

“He has taught and urged them to return to Him when they have sinned against Him; He did so out of abundant Goodness and Uprightness, because He knows their inclination to sin, as it says, “Hashem is good and upright, therefore He guides sinners on the way.”[6]

One must recognize that Hashem gave us the ability to do teshuva as a gift, out of His infinite love for us. Therefore, He has charted for us a clear path that leads to teshuva. Just as the accidental murderer had clear guidelines in how to get to the Cities of Refuge, our refuge from our failings and personality flaws has also been clearly marked.

What’s more, when it is a time for introspection and teshuva and others are involved in it, it becomes easier to involve oneself in the arduous, yet gratifying, internal and external efforts towards teshuva.


“You shall prepare the way for yourself”

“You shall seek out His Presence”



Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW

Rebbe/Guidance Counselor – Heichal HaTorah

Principal – Ohr Naftoli- New Windsor


[1] If a person kills accidentally he must run to one of these cities for protection. Otherwise, the close relatives of the murdered person can avenge their relative's death
[2] Devorim 19:3
[3] Makos 10b
[4] Zevachim 54b
[5] Devorim 12:4-6
[6] Tehilim 25:8


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