Self-deception and unconscious self-destructive urges are confounding.  At times, we make best and sincerest efforts to avoid falling into certain patterns and dysfunctional behavior.  Despite this, like lemmings, we hurl ourselves over the cliff to our doom.

Our Gemara on Amud Beis quotes a verse (Devarim 22:8) that instructs one to make their home safe:

כִּ֤י תִבְנֶה֙ בַּ֣יִת חָדָ֔שׁ וְעָשִׂ֥יתָ מַעֲקֶ֖ה לְגַגֶּ֑ךָ וְלֹֽא־תָשִׂ֤ים דָּמִים֙ בְּבֵיתֶ֔ךָ כִּֽי־יִפֹּ֥ל הַנֹּפֵ֖ל מִמֶּֽנּוּ׃

When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, so that you do not bring bloodguilt on your house if anyone should fall from it.

The Chasam Sofer on the Torah offers an insightful dersasha based on this verse. The verse can be read literally to say, “Do not build a parapet on your roof so that you not come to fall from it (that is, the parapet!)”. Meaning to say, the very protective wall that you build might somehow become the hazard, and you can fall off of it!  The Chasam Sofer explains that though the penitent must make new and extensive restrictions upon himself to safeguard from re-committing the sin, there is some limit or line that he should not cross.  If his new restrictions are too much, it will lead him to not only violate his new restrictions, but then as a result of this negative momentum, even violate the letter of the law as well.

The question we must ask ourselves is, how many times do we erect fences and borders with the intention of protecting ourselves but then we get hurt and even stumble over these very same protections?

 

Translations Courtesy of Sefaria, (except when, sometimes, I disagree with the translation cool.)