Melachim Alef perek 12

Perek 12 describes the destructive consequences of Rechavam heeding the advice of the younger advisors which eventually caused Bnei Yisrael to be divided into two kingdoms. The Gemara (Nedarim 40a) notes from here that ‘The construction of children is destruction (binyan yeladim stirah) and the destruction of the wise is construction’ (stiras zekeinim binyan).

The ‘simple’ explanation here is that children do not realize that sometimes in order to progress, one needs to take a step backwards and solidify the foundations of any given project. Children build on unstable and precarious foundations,which leaves their final product dangerous and destructive. The wise, however, understand the need to first solidify the foundations, and although it may appear to be destruction when they step back to solidify their progress, it is truly construction. Rechavam should have heeded the advice of his experienced advisors who understood that it was worth scaling back taxes to consolidate his kingdom.

The Kotzker Rebbe offers a deeper insight. ‘The construction of children is destruction,’ says the Kotzker, refers to the fact that when children want to raise their self-esteem and confidence (‘construction’) they do it via putting others down (‘destruction’). Genuinely confident people can grow without looking over their shoulder; they raise themselves up instead of pushing others down.

In order to succeed in life, we must ensure we constantly consolidate our progress, rather than only move forward. Additionally, we must ensure that improving our self-confidence does not come at the expense of knocking someone else.

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