Rabbi Milevsky's Thought of the Week: Matos-Maasei - 5778
The descendants of Levi have a special role as leaders and teachers of Israel. Consequently, the Levites were not given a standard portion of land in Eretz Yisrael like the rest of the nation. Nevertheless, the tribes of Israel were told to set aside 48 cities for them. The cities of the Levites were not only to provide accommodation for the descendants of Levi, but by situating them throughout the land, they became centres of spiritual guidance.
The Torah notes that an open space must be placed surrounding these cities. This land was kept vacant and undeveloped for the beautification of the town.
Keeping Eretz 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 is alluring to the heart and soul. Aesthetics indeed have importance, especially in areas of education and inspiration.
Yet at the same time, the family of Levi, as 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 Klal Yisrael.