The cities of refuge offered protection, even for someone who committed murder intentionally, he waited there till the court issued a ruling. Basically it protected anyone who had caused a loss of life.
After the destruction of the Holy Temple the cities of refuge ceased to exist in the physical sense. Yet the Torah and its lessons are eternal, therefore, the concept of cities of refuge finds expression in the spiritual dimension.
The Torah itself is the refuge in which all may seek asylum.
In the spiritual sense, "killing" symbolizes the act of committing a sin, causing a spiritual death to the G-dly soul.
We learn from this week's Torah portion that it is never too late to repent. Even the person who deliberately sinned can repent and seek protection in the refuge of Torah.
In the times of the Holy Temple, repentance alone was not enough to atone for a sin. The unintentional killer had to remain exiled in the city of refuge until the death of the High Priest. Yet after the destruction of the Temple, like now, teshuva, repentance alone can atone for even the gravest sin.
In the same way, the month of Elul, during which we take account of our actions of the previous year, is a "city of refuge" - in time, offering us the same opportunity to clear the slate and merit a good and sweet year to come.
Candle lighting time for L.A. is 7:16 pmShabbat Shalom!