Monday, November 14, 2016

v'Lot yosheiv b'Sdom - no regrets

1. Last post I dealt with the question on why Avraham had to ask G-d for a child when he saw b'nevuah Ya'akov and the shevatim and when he saw b'nevuah Bnei Yisrael entering Eretz Yisrael.  Obviously he would have offspring!  Nevuah is like knowing the ending scenes of a movie -- no matter how suspenseful the plot is, you know the conclusion. 

My wife's grandfather, R' Dov Yehudah Shochet, gave a simpler answer than the one I posted last week.  My analogy to a movie is all wrong.  When the navi is given a glimpse of the future, he is seeing the possible future based on the madreigah he is on at that moment.  If he or his offspring fail to live up to their potential, then that vision and future will never come to fruition. 
2. In discussing the pasuk of “VaYikchu es Lot v’es rechusho ben achi Avram… " last week, I did not deal with the end of the pasuk, "v'Lot yosheiv b'Sdom."  We know already that Lot had left Avraham to move to Sdom.  Why does the parsha repeat this point here?
Ohr haChaim suggests as follows: Avraham by this time was already a well known personality.  In a short time we will read in Chayei Sarah that the people of Cheis call him a prince.  So how did anyone dare lay a hand on Lot, Avraham's relative?  The Torah gives us the answer: "v'Lot yosheiv b'Sdom."  They saw a Lot who was disconnected, a Lot who had abandoned the spirituality of Avraham's home, a Lot who had forsaken his family and their beliefs in his pursuit of a different lifestyle. 
What they did not reckon for is that even if Lot turned his back on Avraham, Avraham would never turn his back on Lot.  Maybe a temporary split with Lot was necessary, but once Lot was in trouble, Avraham would always be there for him.

I thought perhaps the Torah is telling us something else here.  Put yourself in Lot's shoes: you left Avraham to go move to greener pastures, and suddenly you find yourself in the midst of a war, taken hostage, and all the wealth you had accumulated thanks to Avraham gone.  What would be going through your mind?  I know what I would be thinking.  I would be imagining the quiet evenings sitting in an armchair in Avraham's tent and kicking myself for turning my back on that.

The Ba'al Shem taught that a person is where his machshava is.  You can be eating in your dining room on Shabbos night, but because you have in the back of your mind your eiruv techumin that is sitting 2000 amos away, that's considered your makom shevisah.  You would expect to find a regretful, remorseful Lot thinking of Avraham's home that he had abandoned, and therefore, that's where he would be.  No, says the Torah!  Even after being taken captive and losing everything, "v'Lot yosheiv b'Sdom," Lot was still mentally living in Sdom, connected with that place, that lifestyle.  He still did not turn his thoughts to Avraham, he still had no remorse over leaving and could not imagine himself returning.    

3. My wife asked the following question: Each one of the five kings mentioned by the Torah is named (14:2): "Bera melech Sdom, Birsha melech Amorah, Shinav melech Admah, v'Shemever melech Tzvoyim,"  with the exception of the last one, "u'melech Bela hi Tzo'ar."  Why is his name not given?  All we have is the name of the place King Anonymous ruled over, but not his name.  My simple answer is that he had no name, i.e. once he assumed the throne he was just known as "The King."  Does anyone else have a better idea?


  1. Along the same lines as #1... We make a big deal about the how Avraham was willing to sacrifice his son at the aqeidah, after waiting so long to have Yitzchaq. But wasn't he told "ki miYitzchaq yiqarei lekha zara" -- and Yitzchaq didn't have offspring yet! So didn't Avraham know that Yitzchaq would survive, be resurrected, or in some other way not really be permanently sacrificed?

    1. R' Chaim (quoted in GRI"Z al Hatorah) says that Avraham deliberately avoided asking the obvious question because there was no resolution. Sefas Emes says Avraham could be mochel on Hashem's promise for the sake of accepting the nisayon.

  2. I like #2 very much.
    Rashi says: his dwelling in Sdom was the cause. That's true objective reality, that's what the Torah is teaching us (the readers). But Lot couldn't understand this, or wouldn't take it to heart, as you suggest in your explanation. We see clearly Lot had no remorse about living in Sdom -- this is not just speculation -- because after Avraham rescues and sets him free, Lot goes right back home to Sdom and continues living there. In fact in Vayera even when it's clear God is about to destroy the city, Lot still drags his feet and hesitates to leave (vayitmah-mah). We can see important mussar in that about how attached and addicted human beings can become to the wrong things sometimes, sadly.

  3. I believe Ramban briefly addresses #3. He writes that because Tzoar was such a small city, their king was not famous ("had no name" outside his own city). This is a variation on your idea, but also leverages one of the few other facts revealed about Tzoar (in Vayera) - its modest size.

    Siftei Chachamim suggests (speculates?), based on Rashi's interpretation of the other kings' names as indicating wickedness, that perhaps the king of tzo'ar was not as wicked and/or his name didn't convey anything interesting, and therefore the Torah did not list it.

    1. >>>perhaps the king of tzo'ar was not as wicked

      maybe that contributed to its being saved?