As the city of Sdom is destroyed, the Torah tells us “vayizkor Elokim es Avraham,” Hashem remembered Avraham and saved Lot from the destruction. The simple reading of the pasuk perhaps gives the impression that Lot was saved in the merit of Avraham. However, Rashi interprets the clause to refer to Lot’s own merit. When Avraham was travelling through Egypt with Sarah, he professed that she was his sister. Lot obviously knew that they were husband and wife, but nonetheless kept quiet and went along with the ruse. In repayment for his silence, Hashem rewarded Lot with rescue.
The Alter m’Slabodka (I could not find this last night in Ohr HaTzafun – if anyone digs it up, please let me know) asks why Rashi calls our attention specifically to this merit. Lot was Avraham’s nephew, and as depicted in the various episodes of Braishes, was consistently the beneficiary of rewards based on that relationship. It would have been truly callous of Lot to turn in his own uncle! Surely a much greater zechus for Lot is the remarkable feat of hachnasas orchim he performed in the midst of the wicked city of S’dom itself, taking in the wandering angels despite great risk to himself and his family. Yet, that entire parsha is overlooked – why?
I hate to do it, but I’m leaving you with a teaser to think about (or find the hidden [pun intended] Ohr Tzafun) because I intend to try to deal with this in the R' Tzadok chaburah and can't risk giving the game away in advance. However, in response to a much appreciated comment yesterday, here are some mareh mekomos for those who can’t attend. I try to connect R' Tzadok's theme to the parsha; the piece we are up to relates to the mitzvah of tzedaka, which ties into S'dom's guilt and can shed some light on the Alter's kashe. Bl"n summary next week.
1) R’ Tzadok haKohein, Kedushas Shabbos p.2 d”h vahapashut
2) Baba Basra 10a “chessed l’umim chatas”
3) Baba Basra 4a “Daniel lama ne’enash”
4) Pesachim 8b, Tosfos d”h “sheyizkeh”
5) Michtav m’Eliyahu I p.291 (lishma)
6) Parashas Derachim, Derush 18, esp the Midrash in the opening
7) Yechezkel 16:49 “Hinei zeh haya avon S’dom achoseich…v’yad ani v’evyon lo hechzika”
8) Chiddushi haRan Sanhedrin 56b (note the proof from S’dom)
9) Sanhedrin 104b
Question: does giving a lot of charity make you a “ba’al chessed”, or is someone who is a “ba’al chessed” motivated to give a lot of charity? What comes first – chicken or the egg?