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    How much crime? – Va’et’channan

    Fleeing to a city of refuge

    The law against murder is basic to the Ten Commandments, as to the ethic of every nation.

    The Torah knows, however, of more than one kind of murder, and provides a method of dealing with unpremeditated killing.

    There were six cities of refuge to which the perpetrator could flee from the wrath of “the avenger of blood” (Num. 35:11-15) – three on each side of the Jordan. Yet many more people lived west of the Jordan, as against a mere two and a half tribes on the east.

    In an age when people demand that action not be “disproportionate” (another word hijacked by people who live by slogans and not sanity) we wonder whether the provision of cities of refuge was proportionate.

    Maybe there was more crime and anarchy on the east of the Jordan, perhaps because it was further away from the sanctuary.

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