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The Month Of Refuge

Written by Rabbi Yehoshua Alt, 14/9/2019

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The Month Of Refuge

The Arizal points out that the first letters ofאנה לידו ושמתי לך[1] spell אלול. This allusion is found by an עיר מקלט, the city of refuge, since Elul is an  עיר מקלטin the sense that it is an עת רצון- an opportune time that Hashem accepts Teshuva[2] on sins from the past.


To be safe from the גואל הדם, avenger of blood, the perpetrator must go to a city of refuge. In life we have a גואל הדם, the Yetzer Hara (Satan). The city of refuge for us is Shema as it represents עול מלכות שמים.[3] In fact, שמע is an acronym for עול מלכות שמים. There are 48 cities, divided into 42 and 6.[4] Corresponding to this, we have 6 words in the first Pasuk of Shema and 42 in the first paragraph of Shema.[5] This is telling us that when we accept the sovereignty of Hashem, we are saved from the Yetzer Hara.


R’ Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. R’ Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

[1] Shemos 21:13

[2] The Alter of Slobodka would say that Teshuva is not becoming better. It is becoming different.

[3] Mishna Brura, 61:27. See Brachos 61b. This is just as we say in Birchas Krias Shema וכלם מקבלים עליהם על מלכות שמים; they all accept upon themselves the yoke of heavenly sovereignty. Also, see the Tur (Hilchos Rosh Hashana, 591) that with the Pasuk of Shema Yisrael we can fulfill our obligation of Malchiyos on Rosh Hashana.

[4] Bamidbar 35:6,7. See Makos 10a.

[5] Ohaiv Yisrael, Masei, s.v. ואת הערים

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