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October 25, 2015 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Vayera

In this week’s Torah portion, both Abraham and Lot have some angels over.  Arama comments that these two incidents give us nice examples of what to do and what not to.

On the one hand, Abraham: “he could have withdrawn into his tent long before the travelers had a chance to reach him.  Instead he ran forward, imploring them, as if they were doing him a favor by dining with him…”

On the other, while “Abraham rushes to welcome strangers”, Lot “waits until the last possible moment to invite them in”.  Also, he “asks them to be gone first thing in the morning; he does not even mention food.” (Fortunately in Pittsburgh my hosts have been more like Abraham than Lot- I think I’ve had invites 2/3 of shabbos lunches).

Arama also uses the issue of hospitality to explain why Sodom was destroyed.  Sodom’s residents liked homosexual rape and disliked poor people- but that alone might not justify Divine genocide, since plenty of highly murderous civilizations (even Jews at certain times)  were punished less severely.

So why was Sodom so terrible?  Arama  posits that (according to Jewish legend) Sodom made hatred of hospitality and charity into an ideology; it became part of their nature, making repentance impossible.  By contrast, Jews at times behaved badly due to anger, temptation, etc. but maintained high ideals, leaving open the possibility of improvement.  Arama’s interpretation has a lesson for us: we may fail due to temptation, but let’s acknowledge and keep our ideals even if we fall short of them.


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