In speaking of the “Cities of Refuge” — six cities to which those guilty of manslaughter could flee to find safety from a victim’s avengers — the Torah in the section of Vaes’chanan says:1 “he shall flee to one of these cities and he shall live.”

The Gemara2 derives from this that “a student who is exiled has his teacher exiled with him, for the verse states, ‘he shall live.’ That is, you shall do something for him that provides him with life.”

The Rambam in Yad HaChazakah3 states this law as follows: “A student who is exiled to the Cities of Refuge has his teacher exiled with him, for the verse states ‘he shall live’ — you shall do something for him so that he may live.” The Rambam concludes: “For men of wisdom, or for those who [at least] seek wisdom, life without the study of Torah is considered as death.”

The concept implicit in the statement that “a student who is exiled has his teacher exiled with him,” also applies to the spiritual service of every individual.

Every Jew enjoys a relationship with G‑d that is similar to that of a pupil and his master, as the verse states: “All your children [all Jews] are G‑d’s disciples.”4 When a Jew sins against G‑d, he is considered “an unworthy disciple” until he repents. The reason he sinned in the first place is because he lacked wisdom, as our Sages state:5 “A person will not sin unless he is overcome with a spirit of folly” — the antithesis of wisdom.

The Alter Rebbe6 explains that the verse: “Wisdom gives life to those who possess it”7 means that a Jew’s life derives from G‑dliness clothed in the human faculty of wisdom. Therefore, when a person is “a man of wisdom,” he is constantly aware of his relationship with G‑d, and it is nigh impossible for him to sin.

The ability to sin comes from not being a “man of wisdom;” such an individual does not feel a connection with his Master. This is a result of the spirit of folly, which occludes a person’s wisdom.8

When an individual sins against G‑d, he must reckon with the “avenger,” the evil inclination that seeks to bring a Jew to a state of spiritual death, as our Sages say:9 “He is Satan, he is the evil inclination, he is the angel of death.”

Concerning this sad state of affairs, we learn that “a student who is exiled has his teacher exiled with him.” In spiritual terms, this means that although a sinner is currently “lacking in wisdom,” this in no way means — G‑d forbid — that his connection with G‑d has been severed. For every Jew at least seeks wisdom, in line with the saying:10 “A Jew neither desires nor is he able to be sundered from G‑dliness.”

If a Jew sins, it means that his connection to G‑d is dormant and concealed. However, even in such a situation, the Divine link remains powerful enough to save him from the “avenger” and the spiritual death it brings.

When a Jew demonstrates a desire to be a “worthy disciple” and clearly seeks wisdom, then “wisdom will give him life,” i.e., it will infuse his entire being with a feeling of sanctity. Thus, the sway of the evil inclination will cease in and of itself.

If this is so with regard to an individual Jew, it is certainly true regarding the Jewish people as a whole: When Jews find themselves in exile, as we are today, it is possible to — Heaven forbid — lose hope, not knowing how to extricate ourselves.

The Torah therefore rules that “a student who is exiled has his teacher exiled with him.” And since “that which G‑d does, He commands us to do as well,”11 it follows that our Divine Teacher finds Himself in exile, as it were, with us. As our Sages state:12 “Wherever the Jewish people were exiled, they were accompanied by the Divine Presence.”

Thus, a loss of hope is totally out of place, for even in exile, “G‑d is your protective shade [for He is found] at your right hand.”13

G‑d therefore sees to it that we all become “worthy students.” This brings about our liberation from exile and leads us to the complete Redemption through our righteous Moshiach.

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXIX, pp. 33-39