Rabbi Milevsky's Thought of the Week: Matos/Massei - 5772
The Levites were not given a standard portion of land in Eretz Yisrael. Nevertheless the tribes were told to set aside forty-eight cities for them. The cities of the Levites were not only to provide accommodation for the descendants of Levi, but to place them, as spiritual leaders, throughout the land. For though the Beit Hamikdash was only in one place, the preaching of the values of Torah, were not to be confined.
When the cities were given to them, the Torah notes that an open space must be provided around the cities. This land was kept vacant and undeveloped for the beautification of the town.
Keeping Erezt Yisrael appealing and pleasing to the eye is important. We must view every inch of the land as our home. When it is graced with beauty it allures the heart and soul. Strengthening the link between the People of Israel and the Land of Israel is indeed part of the task of the Levite.
Yet at the same time the teachers of Am Yisrael must remind the nation that the land, its development and beautification, is not an end in itself but a means to fulfill the destiny of the Kllal Yisrael.
During the days that lead to Tisha B’Av, as we meditate and reflect on the condition of the Jew in exile, let us recommit to our people, land and our destiny.