The link appeared in my Facebook newsfeed, and it was shocking. It was a collection of hair-raising selfies, taken by people just seconds before their deaths, which were caused by those very same selfies. There was one picture I couldn’t wrap my mind around: a selfie of a girl on the roof of a very tall building. She was standing at the very edge of the roof. I scanned the picture for a gate, some sort of railing that she should have been leaning against. There was none. I felt so insecure. How could someone be allowed access to a roof without a proper gate around it?

In Parshat Ki Teitze, the Torah commands: “When you build a new house, you should make a gate for your roof.” 1 Before you even move into your new home, ensure that it is safe and that no one can fall off the roof. In fact, even if you move into a previously owned home, you have the same obligation to make sure that your property is safe. Having a guard rail in place can be lifesaving.

There is more to it. The Torah is not merely instructing us regarding brick-and-mortar homes. When the Torah says, “When you build a new house,” it is also referring to entering a relationship, especially a marriage relationship. The need for a gate is symbolic of the potential pitfalls there are when entering a relationship, and the Torah is advising us that, just as we need to set up physical boundaries for our own protection, we must also erect spiritual boundaries to protect our home and our family.

The thing is, erecting a physical barrier is a no-brainer. But the idea of putting up a spiritual boundary requires introspection. We can ask ourselves: What are my weaknesses, and what are the barriers I need in place to help me avoid falling?

To protect my marriage, I may need boundaries with how I interact with other men. I may need boundaries around the words I use, so I don’t stumble and hurt those I love. I may need to establish standards so that my home reflects the values I want to live by.

Boundaries take many forms, but they always have two things in common: They need to be maintained at all times, and they help make us feel secure.

Our lives depend on it.

Thoughtstream: Today, I will choose to strengthen one boundary that will protect my home.

(Adapted from Likkutei Sichot, vol. 19, p. 208, and Torat Menachem, vol. 12, p. 204.)