Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bittul HaYesh With A Wrecking Ball?

(Picture courtesy of

From a window in my office building, I have been watching with great interest and excitement as workers use a wrecking ball attached to a large crane to demolish an old ten-story building. Instead of using total brute force and smashing down half of the building, the workers have been using the wrecking ball almost surgically to meticulously take down the building.

I have not determined why, however, I greatly enjoy watching this destruction, but also ponder why I enjoy it so much. At the same time, I refuse to believe that this scene of destruction that unfolds before my eyes each day does not have any deeper lesson, since there is no such thing as coincidence in this world.

If this is a lesson about breaking down self in order to rebuild, why would I derive so much enjoyment from watching it? Nothing is enjoyable about such a thing.

The holy Baal Shem Tov taught that every thing we see in this world contains a lesson that is applicable to our avodas Hashem. My question is, what exactly is the lesson contained in the destruction of this building?


At December 20, 2006 at 5:58:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

all those things are there for _you_ to learn from them, specifically in your life with everything going on around them... there are an infinite number of things that it could represent, both good and bad.

in that sense, i guess it's like dreams.

so, I will interpret it positively, you're surgically battering your yetzer harah to smithereens :)

At December 20, 2006 at 8:12:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the old Dobie Gillis show, his beatnik buddy Maynard G. Krebs was eager to watch the continuing demolition of the Endicott Building.

At December 20, 2006 at 2:01:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My first thought was that you are like a toddler who builds a tower of blocks and then, with joyous abandon, knocks it down. But, on reflection, I think that's not it, at all. You are perhaps interested in the engineering feat of slowly and methodically dismantling, rather than demolishing, the building; it appeals to your scientific, rational nature. Also, there is the voyeuristic aspect of getting to see the wallpaper or paint in exposed rooms and the infrastructure that is normally hidden (the pipes, beams, etc). It's reassuring to know that the building really has a strong framework (sort of like seeing an x-ray of your arm and realizing that you really do have bones inside). And finally, watching the building come apart reminds you that even the strongest manmade edifices must yield to a superior force; in the same way, we are fragile beings in the hands of a higher power.

Personally, I find demolitions rather disturbing to watch, but I enjoy watching a new building being constructed; it's a fascinating process. When my son was little, if we passed a construction site, we would park and watch the backhoes, bulldozers, and cranes. Sometimes, now, I follow the progress of a building going up and feel that I'm watching it for my son (but it's fun for me, too).

At December 20, 2006 at 2:10:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Yitz: Interesting

Bob: So I guess I am in good company ;)

Shoshana (Bershad): It is good to hear from you again. As someone who got D's in Science class, I can hardly be described as someone with a "scientific, rational nature". I guess I am more like the toddler "with joyous abandon".

Interestingly, none of the women in my building find this scene at all interesting, while all the men are glued to the window. The other day I remarked, "I might not watch sports, but the fact that I enjoy watching this sure proves my masculinity!" ;)


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