By Rav Micha Golshevsky
This parsha we find that one who accidentally killed a fellow Jew must flee to a city of refuge. The six cities of refuge that were designated by Moshe allude to the six words of the first verse of shema. The forty-two cities that were given to the Levi’im also acted as a city of refuge. These cities allude to the forty-two words of the next part of shema beginning with v’ahavta.
Rav Nosson of Breslov explains that the main mitzvah of kriyas Shema is to have true faith that everything we are going through is because Hashem wills it to be so. He is the one who is running this world from moment to moment. We draw this emunah upon ourselves from day to day when we read the Shema. As we say in the Shema itself, “And these words that I command you this day…”—“They should be new to you every day, as if you had just received the Torah.” We can feel this newness because, in reality, the Torah is given to us anew every single day.
This Emunah expressed in Shema acts as a spiritual city of refuge for all our difficulties by reminding us to keep Hashem in our minds and hearts throughout every second of the day. We renew this yearning each day as if it’s the first time—it is fresh and new for us—and we increase this focus daily. We remember that Hashem causes deliverance to sprout forth all the time—He is “matzmiach yeshuah.” Every new day brings an increase of holiness which is revealed into the world. As Rebbe Nachman said, the world is always getting “shener und shener”—better and better. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be difficulties, but that there is a plan and the closer we are to the redemption the more holiness is revealed.