Someone who kills by accident has to go live in one of the Arei Miklat. The Rambam paskens this halacha and does not specify that it only applies at a particular time, only when there's a Sanhedrin, or only when there's a goel hadam actually trying to kill the murderer.

Is there any reason it wouldn't apply nowadays? I understand that for many years it would have been impossible for most people to travel to Israel, and maybe the assumption was that even if they tried to get there they would fail. Nowadays, Chevron is not the easiest or safest place to live, but it's definitely possible to live there and people do.

Of the other major cities, Golan is just over the Syrian border and was recently retaken from ISIS by the Syrian government, Shechem is fully under the PA and has no Jews, Ramos is in Jordan, Betzer is also in Jordan and its exact location is unknown, and Kedesh is a ruin, so Chevron is probably the safest (!) choice. I didn't look into the other 42.

The requirement to stay in these cities overrides even pikuach nefesh and the needs of the entire Jewish people, so this question is independent of whether it's politically advisable to maintain a Jewish community in Chevron.

Does an accidental murderer have to go live in Chevron? And are there any accidental murderers currently living in Chevron or one of the other cities for this reason?

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    Did Beit Din sentence him to exile?
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 19:33

1 Answer 1


The Sefer HaChinuch writes as follows:

Sefer HaChinuch Mitzvah # 410

ונוהגת מצוה זו בזמן שישראל על אדמתן וסנהדרין של שבעים ואחד יושבין במקומן המוכן להם בירושלם לדין דיני נפשות

And this commandment is operative during the time that Israel is on their land and the Sanhedrin of 71 is sitting in their place that is prepared for them in Jerusalem to judge capital cases.

The Minchat Chinuch in his commentary there explains that this is because the law of exile is equivalent to capital cases in all regards – and capital cases can only be tried when the Sanhedrin is in its place – and Rambam himself writes that the law of exile is equivalent to capital cases:

שוה לגמרי לד"נ כמו שדיני נפשות אם אין הב"ד יושבים במקומם אין דנין ד"נ ה"נ דיני גלות וע' בר"מ פי"א מה' סנהדרין דחשיב החילוקים בין ד"מ לד"נ וכ' דח"ג הן כד"נ א"כ לכל הדברים ח"ג שוים לד"נ

The statement of Rambam that he is referring to:

Hilchot Sanhedrin 11:4

אחד דיני נפשות ואחד דיני מלקיות ואחד דיני גלות הדינים האלו שוים בהן אלא שהמלקות בשלשה ואין אחד מהן בשור הנסקל חוץ מדבר אחד שדינו בעשרים ושלשה

All of the same laws that apply to cases involving capital punishment apply also to cases involving lashes and exile, except that cases involving lashes are adjudicated by three judges. None of these distinctions are made with regard to the judgment of an ox that is stoned except for one, that the judgment is adjudicated by 23 judges. (Touger translation)

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    Notably, he still could go to Chevron if he's worried the Goel Hadam will come after him. Just the obligation to live there doesn't apply.
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 19:53
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    @DoubleAA But is the Goel Hadam allowed to kill him? The implication from Rambam in Hilchot Rotzeach is that he's only allowed to kill him because the guy did not do what he was supposed to do (exile). If there's no obligation of exile then the guy didn't do anything wrong?
    – Alex
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 20:06
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    He can kill him even before the trial! That's why the murderer needs to run as fast as possible to the city
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 20:21
  • @DoubleAA Fair point.
    – Alex
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 20:40
  • I'm not seeing a clear statement anywhere that going there is optional if the Beis Din doesn't rule he has to go there. Maybe there's a separate chiyuv on the murderer himself. I guess you can make a diyuk from the Rambam 5:1 ומצות עשה להגלותו rather than ומצות עשה לו לגלות or something like that but I'd like to see something more explicit. @DoubleAA
    – Heshy
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 21:13

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