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Protecting Ourselves & One Another

By Rabbi Adam


This week we read in the weekly Torah portion, Ki Tetzei, a litany of what seems to be unconnected laws. It is a list that gives us some of the foundations and necessary actions codified into a list and narrative of laws. In this list, there are two seemingly unconnected commandments one after the other.

First, we are told that if we happen upon a bird’s nest and there is a mother bird with the eggs, we are commanded to send the mother away if we want to take the eggs. And directly after this commandment, unlike most of the commandments in the Torah, we are told of the reward -- a long life. The very next verse describes what seems to be a totally unrelated commandment -- when building a house to include a parapet (fence) on our roof to prevent someone from falling and ultimately dying. While the first commandment includes a clear reward, the second is absent from any mention of a reward. Rather, it is clear the rationale for following the commandment is to protect others.

While it is not explicit what the reward is, if we read these verses together, we can begin to understand that building a parapet and protecting others is what gives us the communal reward of a long life. As we begin the new academic year in these unprecedented and challenging times, faced with so many unknowns and fears, it is now more than ever when we need to build the parapet for our community. Not simply to protect ourselves, but to protect those around us as well.

What is your parapet in your life right now?

What are the actions you are taking to build a safe home and community for not only yourself but for those around you? 

For all of us, it can be the simple act of wearing a mask, protecting both ourselves and others. In this upcoming week look around and find those things you can do to create a community that looks out for the well-being of others. To build the community parapet, and only then will be granted a long life.

Shabbat Shalom!

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