Back in the last Parsha of the Book of Bamidbar, called Masei, HaShem told Moshe about the special Mitzvah of Arei Miklat – Cities of Refuge. Now, it’s time for Moshe to relay this Mitzvah to Bnei Yisrael.
Moshe instructed, “Set up six cities of refuge. Each city will be a safe haven for a person in case he killed another person by accident. No doubt the relative of the dead person will seek revenge, so let these six cities be ‘safe zones,’ protected areas, where they cannot be harmed.”
Three of the cities were to be on the eastern side of the Jordan River, where the tribes of Reuven, Gad, and half of Menashe lived. The other three were to be in the Land of Israel.
BTW: The Arei Miklat concept is nothing new for Bnei Yisrael. Going back to Parshas Va’Eschanan, Moshe Rabbeinu already took action, setting up the Arei Miklat on “the other side of the Jordan.”
Time for a Shazak Arei Miklat Flashback:
There must be 6 Cities of Refuge. 6, not 3. So, it makes no sense for Moshe to set up the 3 Cities of Refuge on the other side of the Jordan River until Bnei Yisrael settle the land and set up the three remaining cities in Eretz Yisrael.
Moshe doesn’t think like that. He grabs every Mitzvah opportunity that comes his way. “I know, it’s not me, but Yehoshua who will make the Arei Miklat work, but it’s a Mitzvah that I have a chance to do, so I’ll do it now!”
Indeed, Moshe went ahead and set up the Arei Miklat on “the other side of the Jordan.”
“Please, we need signs, plenty of Miklat signs, showing the way to the Arei Miklat. Here’s where I want you to put them…”
Moshe was quite busy directing the “Miklat Project,” and Bnei Yisrael learned a vital lesson from Moshe Rabbeinu – the master educator – “Grab a Mitzvah at the very first opportunity!”