Beware of Heights – Parashat Ki Teitzei

“…When you build a new house you shall make a guardrail for your roof, so as not to cause blood in your house; for he who falls will fall from it…..” (Devarim 22:8)

כי תבנה בית חדש ועשית מעקה לגגך ולא תשים דמים בביתך כי יפל הנפל ממנו – דברים כב, ח

“House” – This includes also the rooftop of the Heichal. —Sifrei

Parashat Ki Teitzei

The mitzvah of maakeh, erecting guardrails around our rooftops, can also be interpreted as a lesson on the importance of humility. The rooftop represents pride, and the obligation to make a guardrail around it means that we must keep our pride and arrogance to a limit. For “he who falls, will fall from it”; arrogance is the root of all spiritual deterioration and failing.

The Sifrei states that the Heichal, the Temple sanctuary, is not exempt from this obligation, and the Heichal rooftop too needs a maake. In light of the above, this Sifrei is teaching that self-pride from spiritual accomplishments is just as detrimental as pride caused by physical and material prominence.

Yes, we must be proud and confident about our devotion to G-d and His Torah, as expressed in Divrei Hayamim (17:6), “And his heart was proud in the ways of G-d”. Nevertheless, we must be careful not to allow our pride to evolve into feelings of personal superiority. For the evil of conceit is not exclusive to the materialistic and greedy – “righteous conceit” places one at equally great a risk of spiritual downfall.

—Likutei Sichos, vol. 24, pp. 141-142

 

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