Parshas Va’Yera– The Kingdom of Sodom

When we examine this week’s Parsha there is an involvement once again with the interaction between Avrohom , Sodom, and Lot. HaShem tells Avrohom He is planning on destroying Sodom; Avrohom davens and his Tefila does not save them; Sodom is destroyed as Lot is saved; and finally the most puzzling part of all. Lot’s daughters have children with him, and those children are the ancestors of Malchus Bais Dovid, the royal house of David. What is taking place here?

It is even more puzzling since the Midrash Rabbah[1] discusses a Pasuk in Tehilim: Says HaShem, “I found my servant Dovid.” Asks the Midrash where was he found? In Sodom. This implies that it was not just that Lot was the ancestor of Dovid, but he needed to somehow be connected to Sodom. Once again, why?

There is a core of good in Lot. His father was Haran, who was the only person willing to believe in HaShem after Avrohom comes out of the fiery furnace. As a result, Haran is the progenitor of the Imahos and Lot[2]. Further, Lot does leave his family home and accompany Avrohom in all his travels, and even protecting Avrohom and Sara in Egypt[3]. But that just explains why Lot might be a forefather of Dovid; but what possible good is there in Sodom?

Sodom stands as the opposite of Avrohom. If Avrohom is the paragon of the Midah of Chesed, Sodom is the antithesis. But they are not just cruel and evil, they have a philosophy. In Mishlei[4] we learn: A hater of gifts is alive. What this means is when a person lives their live depending on others, they are not alive themselves. To be alive is to be independent and standing on your own. As we learn in Halacha[5], a legal adult over the age of thirteen and obligated in all the Mitzvoth, but if he is dependent on is father for his livelihood is limited in his financial dealings since he has the law of a child. This is because he is dependent still on others, and is not his own person. A person who lives his life for gifts and handouts, is not fully alive.

In a twisted way, Sodom cared about the poor. They wanted them to be alive and not dead, so therefore they said we cannot give you any charity. If we do, we are killing you! This approach took root and lead to the excesses that we learn about, including the infamous beds of Sodom, and the young lady tortured to death for the unforgivable sin of feeding the poor[6]. This would be parallel to someone helping his friend work on his Midah of haughtiness by constantly belittling him. This is not the Torah approach. As is quoted in the name of R Yisroel Salanter: My concern and care of my friend’s Gashmiyus is my Ruchniyos and spiritual growth. There is a concern in Hilchos Tzedakah[7] that teaches the highest level of Tzedakah is to establish the poor person so he can stand on his own; but that does not preclude giving Tzedakah when it is needed. But still there is an underlying idea here that has a kernel of truth.

The daughters of Lot were not just deranged individuals who had no sense of boundaries. As the Pasuk says, they assumed there was no one left in the world, and they were obligated to save and continue the world. They assumed that another Mabul had taken place and just as Noach had survived the previous Mabul, they were survivors of this Mabul. But in order to reach such a conclusion you need to assume the survivor is like Noach, the last and greatest Tzadik in the world. But Lot’s daughters knew their uncle Avrohom, and who he was, and still they thought there father was the only survivor. That means that they thought their father was a greater Tzadik than Avohom. That stems for Ga’avah. At least they should have waited to clarify what the status was, before engaging in the behavior they did[8].

So we find in this incident two Midos which are incorrect. Ga’avah is the opposite of Klal Yisroel since we are beloved by HaShem because we always lower ourselves, and are Anavim. Chesed in the correct way is the foundation of the world, and of Avrohom to being the Jewish people. But if we examine them we see that even though both of these Midos are the opposite of Klal Yisroel, they both have a place. And the place they are most needed is in the formation of Malchus.

One is obligated to honor and respect various people; parents, Talmidei Chochomim, and the king. Aside from the king, the others can renege on their Kavod. A father can allow a child to sit in his place, a Talmid Chochom can tell people to not stand up when he walks in. But a king does not have that option. He must demand his Kavod[9]. In the context of the modesty of Klal Yisroel, this is out of character.

The antithesis of taking is a king. The Gemarra in Nedarim[10] when it looks for the epitome of a non-taker, says, “Am I a king that I take nothing?” And this is correct because a king who takes from others is obligated to them and unable to lead. A king needs to be the ultimate “hater of gifts”.

The place where these two Middos can be found is in Sodom and the daughters of Lot. We need to bring these Middos into the Jewish people since we are stronger in other Middos. In order to create the Malchus of Dovid; who is mentioned as the humblest of men, and is also a paragon of Chesed as seen from his shepherding; we need to bring in Ruth who carries the other traits with her from Sodom and Moab.

This also explains the connection between salt and Sodom. Salt is something that not only does not spoil, but it supports others. In the proper way that is Sodom. But that took this too far, and therefore they are punished by salt. That is also why the washing of your hands after the meal is to cleanse the salt of Sodom. When a person eats, he can rebel against HaShem and thing that he is the source. In order to say Birchat HaMazon, you need to acknowledge that HaShem is ths source, nit your own efforts. To do that you first need to make sure that your hands- your abilities – do not blind you to HaShem’s direction, and then you can have proper gratitude to HaShem.

[1]  מדרש רבה בראשית פרשה נ פסקה י – ואת שתי בנותיך הנמצאות וגו’ א”ר טוביה בר רבי יצחק שתי מציאות רות המואביה ונעמה העמונית אמר רבי יצחק (תהלים פט) מצאתי דוד עבדי היכן מצאתי אותו בסדום:

[2]  שפת אמת ספר בראשית – פרשת לך – שנת [תרל”ז]  -טעם שזכה לוט להיות עם אברהם אע”ה וגם הוא גופא שזכה לצאת ממנו דוד ומשיח נראה כי הי’ בזכות הרן אביו אף שלא הי’ מס”נ בשלימות ולכך נשרף. אעפ”כ שריפתו הי’ בכלל קידוש השם ונשרף בעבור השי”ת ואין הקב”ה מקפח שכר כל ברי’ לכן זכה לכל זה:

[3]  רש” בראשית פי”ט פכ”ט – ויזכור אלהים את אברהם – (ב”ר) מהו זכירתו של אברהם על לוט נזכר שהיה לוט יודע ששרה אשתו של אברהם ושמע שאמר אברהם במצרים על שרה אחותי היא ולא גילה הדבר שהיה חס עליו לפיכך חס הקב”ה עליו:

[4]  ספר משלי פרק טו  – (כז) עכר ביתו בוצע בצע ושונא מתנת יחי

[5]  בבא מציעא דף יב/ב – גדול וסמוך על שלחן אביו זה קטן

[6]  מהרש”א על סנהדרין דף קח/א  – ואמר וחטאים בעדת צדיקים אלו אנשי סדום שהיו רחוקין מן הצדקה כדלקמן בעובדא דההיא ריבה וק”ל:

[7]  רמב”ם יד החזקה הלכות מתנות עניים פרק י  – (ז) שמנה מעלות יש בצדקה זו למעלה מזו מעלה גדולה שאין למעלה ממנה זה המחזיק ביד ישראל שמך ונותן לו מתנה או הלואה או עושה עמו שותפות או ממציא לו מלאכה כדי לחזק את ידו עד שלא יצטרך לבריות לשאול ועל זה נאמר והחזקת בו גר ותושב וחי עמך כלומר החזק בו עד שלא יפול ויצטרך:

[8]  ספר שם משמואל פרשת לך לך – שנת תרע”ז  – ביותר, ובשביל זה היתה המריבה בינו לבין אברהם, והי’ מתגאה לומר שכל בנין העולם יהי’ ממנו. וכן מצינו בבנותיו שהיו סבורות שנחרב כל העולם בדור המבול, ומשמע שהיו סבורות שגם אברהם אבד, אלא שלוט גדול יותר במעלה מאברהם, ע”כ נמלט הוא ולא אברהם. וכן כתוב (ישעי’ ט”ז) שמענו גאון מואב גא מאד. מכל הלין נראה שלוט הוא קליפת הגיאות, והוא היפוך מדת דהמע”ה שהוא הי’ בתכלית השפלות, ע”כ היתה נשמתו מתמרקת בלוט.

[9]  כתובות דף יז/א  – מלך שמחל על כבודו אין כבודו מחול דאמר מר שום תשים עליך מלך שתהא אימתו עליך

[10]  נדרים דף כד/א  –  משום דאמר ליה לאו מלכא אנא דמהנינא לך ואת לא מהנית לי


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s