Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Did any of you ever get excited about installation of safety bars on your apartment windows? Or feel special holiness when putting up a guardrail around your roof? This week's Torah portion Ki Teitzei includes 74 mitzvot, more than any other Torah portion. We will focus on one mitzvah that is not sufficiently spoken about: "When you build a new house, you shall make a guardrail for your roof, so that you shall not cause blood [to be spilled] in your house, that the one who falls should fall from it" (Deuteronomy 22:8). How simple, how easy to understand: Put a guardrail around your roof in order that no one will fall off and be killed. It's a mitzvah.
Our commentators expand this mitzvah to include any potential danger for which we would be responsible. It's interesting that we consider affixing a mezuzah to the entry doorpost to be the climactic moment when entering a new home or office. Yet passing a safety inspection before entering a new dwelling is an equally important mitzvah. So too are fastening a seat belt and checking tire pressure, oil, and and water levels in your car. Likewise when it comes to safety measures taken for workers at a construction site so they do not fall to their deaths, and also in regards to erecting a fence around the pool at a guest house so that children should not drown, heaven forbid. And, of course, wearing a mask and going into corona isolation when necessary.
It is clear that there is no room in the Torah for expressions such as "everything will be okay." Instead, the attitude promoted is one of "Venishmartem meod lenafshoteichem": Be very careful for your lives. (Deuteronomy 4:15)