Qitzur Shulchan Arukh – 190:3

ג: כְּשֵׁם שֶׁצָּרִיךְ הָאָדָם לְהִזָּהֵר בְּגוּפוֹ שֶׁלֹּא לְאַבְּדוֹ וְשֶׁלֹּא לְקַלְקְלוֹ וְשֶׁלֹּא לְהַזִּיקוֹ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, “הִשָּׁ֣מֶר לְךָ֩ וּשְׁמֹ֨ר נַפְשְׁךָ֜ מְאֹ֗ד”, כָּךְ צָרִיךְ לְהִזָּהֵר בְּמָמוֹנוֹ שֶׁלֹּא לְאַבְּדוֹ וְשֶׁלֹּא לְקַלְקְלוֹ וְשֶׁלֹּא לְהַזִּיקוֹ. וְכָל הַמְשַּׁבֵּר כְּלִי, אוֹ קוֹרֵעַ בֶּגֶד, אוֹ מְאַבֵּד מַאֲכָל אוֹ מַשְׁקֶה אוֹ מְמָאֲסָם, אוֹ זוֹרֵק מָעוֹת לְאִבּוּד, וְכֵן הַמְקַלְקֵל שְׁאָר כָּל דָּבָר שֶׁהָיָה רָאוּי שֶׁיֵהָנוּ בוֹ בְּנֵי אָדָם, עוֹבֵר בְּלֹא-תַעֲשֶׂה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, “לֹֽא־תַשְׁחִ֤ית אֶת־עֵצָהּ֙ [לִנְדֹּ֤חַ עָלָיו֙ גַּרְזֶ֔ן כִּ֚י מִמֶּ֣נּוּ תֹאכֵ֔ל וְאֹת֖וֹ לֹ֣א תִכְרֹ֑ת]” וְגוֹמֶר

Just as a person must be careful with his body not to lose [ie kill] it or destroy it or damage it, as it says “”[Just] guard for yourself and guard your life-soul a lot…” (Devarim 4:9; as discussed in the previous se’if) similarly he must be careful with his money not to lose it, ruin it, or damage it. Anyone who breaks a utensil or tears a garment or destroys food or drink or makes them disgusting [inedible] or throws money out to waste, and similarly anyone who ruins any other thing that is fitting for people to enjoy violates a prohibition. As it says, “[When you besiege a city for a long time, in making war against it to take it] do not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them, because you could eat from them — so do not cut them down” etc… (Devarim 20:19)


The final law in our series is that of bal tashchis, needless waste. I wrote a longer piece on why the Torah places such value on money and why Yaaqov bothered to risk facing Esav to go back across the river for a few small jugs. To quote the conclusion, which is a fitting conclusion to our entire survey:

Why did Yaakov go back for a small jug? Didn’t he just gratefully leave Eisav behind in that area, happy that there was no fighting? Doesn’t that mean it was dangerous?

Rashi on Vayishlach quotes Chazal that Yaaqov went back because the righteous consider their money precious, because they earn their money honestly. Proper business ethics isn’t “just” the permissable way to conduct business, it actually sanctifies the activity. And therefore, the pachim qetanim were sacred to Yaaqov, not to be simply left behind.

Eisav’s role in the ideal universe was mastered by Yaaqov — he internalized the notion of the role of the physical and how to sanctify the physical. Of course at that point Yaaqov is challenged by Eisav’s guardian and succeeds.  …

Sha’ul’s mission for his kingship [after he is annointed using the same jug] is to vanquish Amaleiq. Amaleiq is a nation whose namesake forefather was Eisav’s grandson. …

The Shunamit was supported in her time of need by the rewards of Yaaqov’s sacred toiling in this world [through oil Elisha poured from that jug into all the vessels she could find or borrow]. The money which was earned through honest and forthright business dealings will always suffice.

Which brings us to Chanukah. … And then they find the jug of oil. The jug of holy wordliness, of sanctifying the universe through halakhah. Not disdain for the physical or the beautiful, but knowing its value — as a tool. And with that concept the Chashmonaim revived Jewish loyalty, disbanded Hellenist oppression, and restored the concept of Jewish autonomy for the next two centuries. And when we couldn’t maintain that, we still had the notion that there was a role for Yefetic culture but not a clear idea of what that role was, in stepped Edom. Through that struggle with Edom, we can restore the world to “two great lights” — Yisrael and Eisav working in harmony.

הדרן עלך

קיצור שולחן ערוך דיני ממנות

והדרך עלן!

Qitzur Shulchan Arukh – 190:2

ב: וְכֵן כָּל מִכְשׁוֹל שֶׁיֶשׁ בּוֹ סַכָּנַת נְפָשׁוֹת, מִצְוַת-עֲשֵׂה לַהֲסִירוֹ וּלְהִשָׁמֵר מִמֶּנּוּ וּלְהִזָּהֵר בַּדָּבָר יָפֶה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, “הִשָּׁ֣מֶר לְךָ֩ וּשְׁמֹ֨ר נַפְשְׁךָ֜ מְאֹ֗ד”. וְאִם הִנִּיחַ וְלֹא הֵסִיר אֶת הַמִּכְשׁוֹלִים הַמְבִיאִים לִידֵי סַכָּנָה, בִּטֵּל מִצְוַת-עֲשֵׂה וְעָבַר בְּ“וְלֹֽא־תָשִׂ֤ים דָּמִים֙”., כְּגוֹן אִם סֻלָּם רָעוּעַ עוֹמֵד בְּבֵיתוֹ וַחֲצֵרוֹ, וְכֵן הַמְגַדֵּל כֶּלֶב רָע

Similarly, any stumbling block [or danger in general] that has some risk to lives, there is an obligation to remove it, to guard from it, and to be very careful in the matter. As it says, “[Just] guard for yourself and guard your life-soul a lot…” (Devarim 4:9). If he put it down and did not move the hazards that bring one to sanger, he neglected the obligation and violated “do not place [in your home] blood” (Devarim 22:8 [as discussed in the previous se'eif]). For example, if he leaves a broken ladder standing in his home or yard, or if he raises an evil dog.

Qitzur Shulchan Arukh – 190:1

סִימָן קצ – הִלְכוֹת [מַעֲקֶה] שְמִירַת הַגּוּף וּבַל תַּשְחִית

190: Laws of [Railings,] Personal Care, and Not Wasting

א:מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה לַעֲשׂוֹת מַעֲקֶה לְגַגּוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, “וְעָשִׂ֥יתָ מַעֲקֶ֖ה לְגַגֶּ֑ךָ”. גֹּבַהּ הַמַּעֲקֶה אֵינוֹ פָּחוֹת מֵעֲשָׂרָה טְפָחִים, וִיהֵא חָזָק כְּדֵי שֶׁיִשָׁעֵן אָדָם עָלָיו וְלֹא יִפּוֹל. גַגּוֹת שֶׁלָּנו שֶׁאֵין מִשְׁתַּמְשִׁין בָּהֶם, פְּטוּרִין. וְאָמְנָם לֹא הַגַּג בִּלְבַד חַיָב בַּמַּעֲקֶה, אֶלָּא כָּל דָּבָר שֶׁיֶשׁ בּוֹ סַכָּנָה, שֶׁיִכָּשֵל בּוֹ אָדָם וְיָמוּת, חַיָב בְּמַעֲקֶה וְתִקּוּן. וְכָל הַמַּנִּיחוֹ בְּלִי מַעֲקֶה, בִּטֵל מִצְוַת-עֲשֵׂה וְעָבַר עַל לֹא-תַעֲשֶׂה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, “וְלֹֽא־תָשִׂ֤ים דָּמִים֙ בְּבֵיתֶ֔ךָ”. כְּגוֹן מִי שֶׁיֶשׁ לוֹ בּוֹר בְּתוֹךְ חֲצֵרוֹ, חַיָב לַעֲשֹוֹת לוֹ חֻלְיָא גְּבוֹהָה עֲשָׂרָה טְפָחִים אוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹת לוֹ כִּסּוּי שֶׁלֹֹּא יִפּוֹל בּוֹ אָדָם

There is a positive obligation to make a railing for his roof, as it says “[When you build a new house], you will make a railing for your roof [and you will not place blood in your house if someone were to fall from it.]” (Devarim 22:8). The height of the railing can not be less than 10 tefachim [31.4"-37.7"] and must be strong enough that someone can rest against it and not fall.

Our roofs, which people do not use, are exempted.

However, not only the roof alone requires a railing, but also any thing which has a danger that someone can trip-up on and die, requires a railing and fixing. Anyone who leaves it wirhout a railing, ignored an obligation and violated a prohibition, as it says “and you will not place blood in your house.” (ibid) For example, someone who has a pit in his yeard, he is obligated to make a ring for it 10 tefachim high or to make a cover for it so that no one would fall into it.


The law of ma’aqeh, railings, is not actually about being safe. The word “gagekh — your roof” is taken to exclude shuls and batei medrash. Which would make little sense if the point were safety, as they equally need to be safe. As communal areas, we would actually need to be more careful.

Rather, “do not stand by your friend’s blood” would be sufficient to obligate such railings in cases where there is a real danger. Here the issue is to inculcate a culture of safety in the property owner, tooturn even cases where the danger is negligable into a mussar exercise in caring for others’ safety. This is why the obligation depends on the existence of a private owner (or owners — partnerships are also obligated).

The entire message of the mitzvah is encoded in a single letter of the verse “לְגַגֶּ֑ךָ — your roof”.