Makkos 9 - 15
The Range of Responsibility
An accidental murderer is required to go into exile in one of the cities of refuge where he must remain until the death of the Kohen Gadol. The mother of the Kohen Gadol therefore used to supply these exiles with food and clothes so that they would pray for her son to live.
The implication is that without the prayer of these exiles the Kohen Gadol was in danger of dying because of them. But why is he to blame for the accidental taking of life which brought about their exile?
"Because," explained one older Sage who had heard a shiur in the Yeshiva of the Sage Rava, "he should have prayed for the security of his generation and he failed to do so."
An illustration of this concept of a tzadik's responsibility for the entire community was the reaction of the Prophet Eliyahu to a lion killing a man some twelve kilometers from where Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi lived. Although this angelic personality daily visited Rabbi Yehoshua, he refused to speak with him for three days because he held the Sage indirectly responsible for the death in his vicinity which his prayers might have prevented.
- Makkos 11a
Gates of Jerusalem
A song of degrees to David. I rejoiced when they said to me "We will go to the house of Hashem." Our feet did stand in the gates of Jerusalem. (Tehillim 122)
Two comments on the supreme value of Torah study are offered by Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi on these passages:
David said to Hashem: I heard people say "When will this old king die so that his son Shlomo will build the Beis Hamikdash and enable us to make our pilgrimage to the house of Hashem on the Festivals" - and I rejoiced.
Hashem replied: One day of your Torah study is worth more to Me than a thousand sacrifices which Shlomo will offer upon the altar.
Said David: Who made it possible that our feet did stand their ground successfully in war - the Gates of Jerusalem where Torah was studied.
- Makkos 10