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    You have to be a builder – Ki Tetzei

    parapet roof“When you build a new house,” says the Torah, “you shall make a parapet (ma’akeh) on its roof” (Deut. 22:8).

    As Ibn Ezra and Rashbam point out, the word ma’akeh is not found elsewhere, but its meaning is easy to deduce. The parapet you install will guard against people falling off the roof and getting hurt or killed.

    The fact that the Torah uses the phrase, “When you build a new house”, indicates that while buying or inheriting a house is important, and even then a parapet is needed, building a house has a significance all of its own.

    It’s not just that building is a dream come true and the design and content of the house have probably been going round in a person’s head for many years, but building has a metaphorical as well as a literal meaning.

    Metaphorically it conveys the idea of contributing to one’s street or society. Just as other people built for you, so you should build for the generations to come.

    The contribution that your predecessors made towards their age could well have been what was needed in those days, but you have to look at your own age and situation and decide on what you – in your age – must and can put into your civilisation.

    But when deciding on what you will build, you must remember the “parapet” law and ensure that what you do will not harm the world or its inhabitants but be a source of peace and blessing.

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