Twenty-five miles south of Jerusalem, an impressive tel rises above the plains of Judea. A city built upon hundreds of previously destroyed cities, Tel Lachish marks the terrain between Jerusalem and Hebron, whispering ancient legends of its proud inhabitants across the sweeping foothills.

Common to the Middle Eastern landscape, a tel is literally a “mound,” formed by layers of occupation over thousands of years. As each society builds its city upon the ruins of a previous period, the site rises, permanently altering the topography of the land.

Tel Lachish carries their love and their pain, their joys and their sorrowsThe town of Lachish bears great historical significance, resting on ancient metropolises where valiant men and women from the times of Joshua through the Maccabean era once resided. Marked with a tumultuous history of battle and conquest, Tel Lachish carries their love and their pain, their joys and their sorrows, their victories and their defeats.

The tourists come to see Lachish not just because it imposingly juts out of the Judean lowland, but because they want to hear the story of this unusual tel; they want to breathe the air of a city that has experienced endless destruction and rebuilding, but never lost anything along the way.

G‑d could have made us perfect architects. If He wanted, He could have endowed us with tools to build exclusively palatial structures that last for eternity. Instead, He foresaw the beauty of a tel. It was with this vision, in the early summer of 1312 BCE, that G‑d quietly entered a unique potential for human failure into our universe.

They were a newborn nation, standing on the threshold of entering the Promised Land. Hesitant about their future, the Jewish people ask Moses for permission to survey the unknown territory soon to be their home. And so, Moses, the humble servant of G‑d, turns to his Master for consent. But astonishingly—for the first time in history—G‑d tells Moses to do as he pleases.

We all know how the story ends. The spies return with negative reports; the Jews become fearful; and tragically, the generation of the great Exodus never enters the Land of Israel.

It’s a classic question of Torah commentators: If G‑d said, “Do what you want,” didn’t Moses sense that He didn’t really approve of the Jews’ request? Why did Moses persist in sending them?

Indeed, Moses was well aware of the risks involved in dispatching spies; yes, he sensed the possibility for catastrophe in G‑d’s noncommittal answer. But he was also conscious of the fact that G‑d was giving humankind an opportunity for growth that can come about only through failure.

“Do as you wish,” G‑d said, effectively opening a new and empowering dimension in man’s choice.

When you fall, you will rebuild—grander, stronger and more beautiful edificesI’ll leave you room to err, says G‑d, because I know you won’t leave your shattered city in ruins; I know that when you fall, you will rebuild—grander, stronger and more beautiful edifices than ever before. I know that when you stray, what you really want is to be nearer to Me. I know you’re going to build a tel. So I’ll let you make mistakes.

And we do.

I reckon G‑d made us better-than-perfect architects. In fact, He imbued us with such a genuine and passionate desire to create, with such a thirst for growth, that sometimes we find ourselves razing down the old only to give way to the new that is aching to emerge.

We crave rebirth. Status quo never feels right; the old is simply never sufficient. We have an instinctive urge to build anew. Is that why we keep falling?

When we let our id knock down the walls of our personal city, on the surface, it looks like everything we’ve worked towards is suddenly gone. But don’t let the vacuum of ground zero dishearten you, because that subsoil can’t be bought anywhere in the universe. Indeed, like the tel, when we reconstruct our own little broken worlds, it is on terra firma that carries all the resilience and fortitude of our previous journeys.

Sometimes, we build our tel painfully, slowly, trudging through the remains with a broken sort of hope—can we possibly restore our city this time? At other times, we labor with a fury, catapulting through the wreckage with a surety, with a swiftness, so that we don’t set our eyes on what has crumbled, lest we break from regret. We throw ourselves into the building, we lay brick upon brick, glancing away from the debris, and looking upwards only at what we’ve already constructed in our mind’s eye.

But regardless of how we build, we never leave the city in ruins—after all, it’s a tel. And with every breakdown comes an even greater restoration, the earth, begging to be tilled again.

When you stand on the pinnacle of Tel Lachish, you can see for miles. It’s a breathtaking panorama, extending from Bet Guvrin in the north all the way to the Hebron hills in the east. They say you can’t get that view from anywhere else in the area.

What a gift G‑d gave when he granted us the ability to fall. For now, you can stand at the top of your tel and see the world like you’ve never seen it before. Life suddenly has new meaning, new depth. Indeed, from the summit you can see what always surrounded you, but this time, oh so differently.

The monumental tels in our homeland and our souls continue to rise above the landscapeOn the 15th day of Av, 1274 BCE, the Jews of Moses’ generation stopped dying in the desert—a tragedy that had been a consequence of the spies’ failed mission. This day marked the end of their temporary decline, and more importantly, the beginning of subsequent rebuilding and growth, as their children prepared to enter the Land of Israel.

And though our holy cities—both in spirit and of stone—endured relentless destruction in the centuries that followed, the monumental tels in our homeland and our souls continue to rise above the landscape, a tribute to our battered but unbeaten faith and our intrinsic longing to heighten the bond with our Creator.

As we plow the wounded earth yet again, let us look towards the ultimate rebuilding of all time, recalling the promising words of the prophet Jeremiah: Venivneta ha’ir al tilah—“And the city shall be rebuilt on its former tel.”