Can Possessions Be Careful?

There is a well-known Maharal, which answers an obvious question about the arei hamiklat. The Gemora tells us that there were three cities in Eretz Yisrael proper and three in Ever Hayarden. The Gemorah asks that they should not need so many cities of refuge on the other side of the Jordan River. The Gemora answers – “in Gilad (across the Jordan), it was more commonplace (than in Eretz Yisrael) for people to murder.” The Maharal asks, that someone who kills on purpose is not obligated to go to galus. Only one who kills by accident! So even if it is true that there are more murderers on the other side of the Jordan River, why should this increase the amount of involuntary manslaughter? The Maharal answers with an important insight into human nature: Those who perceive murder as a grave wrongdoing will subconsciously protect themselves from doing things which could bring about involuntary manslaughter. (I once heard this explained in the following manner: We all claim that we are not responsible for the damages which we might do while we are sleeping because we are unaware. Yet no matter how small our bed is, we do not roll off of it in the middle of the night. The reason is that if something is important enough to us, then we will be mindful of it – even in our sleep.)

Based on an idea brought by the Ohr Gedalyahu, I would like to take this idea a step further. At the time of Har Sinai, Klal Yisrael was at a level that mishpatim were not necessary. Because of their connection to Hashem, and the understanding of Ish Echad b’lev Echad – being one homogenous nation damages just did not happen. Only after moving away from Mount Sinai was it necessary to put these laws into place. (For example, Avraham Avinu was at this high level in his day-to-day life, and it even affected his animals. While he made sure to muzzle them so they would not eat grass and plants belonging to others, the gemora tells us that this was not even necessary because these animals simply would never eat from food belonging to others.)

As we move away from the week of Har Sinai to the week of mishaptim, we should try to keep that exciting experience permeating through us and into our surroundings, mitigating the need to pursue dinei torah in the court system.

The Chassidim explain this with a tongue-in-cheek reading of the pasuk “V’ahavta” in the first paragraph of Shema: “One should put ‘Ahavas Hashem’ in all of his soul and in all of his possessions.” If we instill “Ahavas Hashem” within our physical possessions, accidents just will not happen. This insurance policy is not cheap, but it is grand!

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