42 and Masay

I was looking up what I may have written in past years that is relevant to this week's parasha  and found one of the pieces from my grandfather's sefer here: http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-division-of-cities-of-refuge.html

This part jumped out at me:
"There were an additional 42 cities of refuge due to the Levi cities serving as such: 36 in Israel proper and another 6 to the east."

The mandate for the cities of refuge only called for 6 in all: 3 on either side of the Yarden. But in reality many more cities served that function because any Levi city could also offer sanctuary for the person who killed unintentionally. That's not specified in the directions relayed in our  parsha, but we do see how the cities of refuge were set up in Yehoshua. First the 6 specified are established (chapter 20) and then the cities are allocated to the Leviim, including the ones identified as an ir miklat.

As any Douglas Adams fan knows, 42 is not just any number but one that signifies the ultimate answer. 
from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/91/42_Answer.jpg

In a way, it does right here. The 42 cities added are an extension of compassion to the refugees because it gives them 48 locations in all rather than just 6. The extension increases the original number by a multiple of 8, which is the number that represents attaining a level beyond the natural cycle. That is at essence what Klal Yisrael is about, we go beyond the natural boundaries and extend chesed in accordance with the Torah guidelines and the direction of the leader.

Of course, this follows the experience that the Dor Midbar had of travelling through the desert at 42 encampments, another sign that the number is tied to formative experience for Klal Yisrael. 

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