I was reading Parashat Shoftim and I was wondering why didn't the Torah simply forbade the Goel Dam to take revenge from the accidental murderer. My feeling is that although it is indeed forbidden, it was a deeply rooted custom in that time. However, many things were "deeply rooted" so why not simply forbidden as other things were forbidden? The other option might be that there is still something lawful from the Goel Dam to revenge his family even if it was accidental!.

What can you about this? Thanks und Gut Shabbes!

  • 2
    Key element here is mistaken. This isn't an "accidental" murder, it's manslaughter. There was a degree of negligence here -- in the case of the ax head flying off, the logger should have checked his equipment and/or surroundings better. The punishment for negligent manslaughter is exile, and that has to be enforced, ergo ... If it was truly a freak accident, the killer is not liable at all -- no exile, no revenge-killing. Have a look at the Mishna for examples of which is which: sefaria.org/Makkot.7a.14?lang=b
    – Shalom
    Aug 18, 2023 at 18:26
  • Why are you assuming that it should be forbidden? I think your question needs an explanation. I assumed the Torah was making a compromise between the needs of the murderer and the needs of the murdered and his family.
    – MichoelR
    Aug 20, 2023 at 1:58
  • I was not sure if it was considered manslaughter. i thought it was indeed a mistake but that there was still some kind of unavoidable gilt even if it was accidental. With the explanation of Makkot, it makes more sense that Goel Dam wants revenge, since there was negligence. Shkoyach! Aug 25, 2023 at 11:28
  • @AndresBruck See also sefaria.org/Numbers.35.24?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=he: "the assembly shall decide between the slayer and the blood-avenger." There are two honest sides here, each with its own claim. The results depend on the circumstances of the death.
    – MichoelR
    Sep 18, 2023 at 2:32

1 Answer 1


The assumption in this question is that the purpose of fleeing is to protect the killer from his avengers, but that's not true. It is actually its own Mitzva, so even if the Torah banned the blood vengeance, he would still have to fulfil the Mitzva based on the pasuk in Bamidbar 35:25

He shall dwell there until the death of the High Priest

The Sefer HaChinuch explains a few reasons:

  1. If a death comes through someone's hand, that's very serious, and that person should have some sort of severe punishment.
  2. It helps restore pleasantness to the community as the family do not have to look upon their relative's killer.

I've also seen explanations that the Torah always prefers rehabilitation, and by having to live among the holy Leviim, the killer will be positively influenced.

If you still would like to know why the Torah didn't ban the goel dam from killing, may I recommend you separate that out into its own question. You should know that there is an opinion (which we don't hold) that it is a mitzva for them to kill him, so it sounds like there is what to discuss.

  • Everyone holds it is forbidden to kill him b4 he makes it to the ir miklat initially (which is the context in Shoftim), where some allow with some even requiring it is where the manslaughterer intentionally leaves the ir miklat . .
    – Nahum
    Jan 15 at 17:29

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