Tuesday, November 11, 2014

no reaction

Right after it says that the malachim left Avraham's home to go to Sdom, Hashem says, "Erdah na v'er'eh...," (18:21) let me go down and see what's going on in Sdom and judge whether they really deserve to be punished.

Shouldn't Hashem have judged Sdom *before* the malachim started off there?  After all, the malachim's mission was to destroy Sdom and save Lot.  If Hashem hadn't made up his mind yet, what were the malachim going for?

The Shem m'Shmiel explains that sending the malachim was part of Hashem's process of judging Sdom.  Experiencing something holy should cause a person to reflect and improve.  Hashem sent the malachim to Sdom as a test to see what would happen.  If Sdom would remain status quo, with no change and no reaction, that would prove that there was nothing left that could be saved.  If they reacted positively, then there was still a chance they could be spared.

Look at Lot's behavior in contrast to that of Sdom.  Lot ran away from Avraham to the spiritually worst place in the world, Sdom, because it was beautiful land that had plentiful pasture.  Lot did not seem like the type individual who would stick his neck out for Torah and mitzvos.  Yet we see in our parsha that Lot does a turnaround and does hachnasas orchim even at great risk to his life.  What happened?  The answer is that the visit of the malachim awakened something inside him that had long been dormant.  When exposed to the great of the malachim, Lot could not help but return to the good practices that he had learned once upon a time from Avraham.  The experience showed that there indeed was goodness still inside him, and therefore, he was saved.

The people of Sdom encountered those same malachim but failed to react.  For Lot, it was a turning point back to mitzvos.  


  1. Actually, the exposure to kedusha was a michshol to Anshei Sdom. There are people who react negatively, and occasionally viciously, upon exposure to even a hint of kedusha. Suggest that SSM or abortion is wrong on any college campus so see evidence of this.

    1. Do you mean the kind of michshol that would fall under "lifnei iver?" I would guess that at that point it would go under "hal'iteihu lerasha veyamus." Unless the reaction formation is evidence that there is still hope, and the biggest resha'im, the ones that gather outside with pitchforks and torches, are the ones with the most potential.

    2. Not a michshol but rather a "l'hotzi mi'liban" as in, to bring out what is really in their hearts.
      Shame the Nazis lost: they obviously had so much potential. [end sarcasm]

    3. On the one hand, you have the Rambam in Teshuva 6:3 that says that there comes a point where teshuva is impossible. On the other hand, you have the Gemara in Gittin about Nevuzaradan. Hard to know where to go with that one, but my guess is that the Nazis were worse than Nevuzaradan.
      But all that is about the possibility of teshuva. It doesn't contradict the possibility that rishus sometimes shows a crippled but still living potential for ruchniyus, On the other hand, it also might show that the point of return has been passed by. Who knows.

    4. I prefer to shoot first and worry about reaction formation later.

    5. >>>Suggest that SSM or abortion is wrong on any college campus so see evidence of this.

      Are you saying the people doing the suggesting are malachim?

    6. Whoever is doing the suggesting, the statement itself contain kedusha. To which secularists have violent allergic reactions, ranging up to and including anaphylaxis, amen - e.g., the army of Sancheriv.

      Of course, it could very well be malachim in the guise of goyim making the suggestions.

  2. Along the same lines: Rashi says that the word "hashkifa" always has a negative connotation except when it is used in the parsha of giving away ma'aser. The Sm"S explains that it's not that the word has 2 opposite meanings. Hashkifa always means kedusha is sent in the direction of the recipient. If you've given away your terumos and ma'asros properly and supported the poor, then you can absorb that gift and run with it. In other circumstances, the recipient can't handle what he is given, and therefore hashkifa leads to rejection and rebellion.