By Rabbi Alex Chapper
‘God remembered Avraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow…’ (Bereishit 19:29)
The commentators question why this verse states that God remembered Avraham and saved Lot. Surely it should read ‘God remembered Lot’.
What connection does Avraham have to this? The Midrash explains why Lot merited being saved from Sodom. When Avraham and Sarah went to Egypt, Avraham asked his wife not to reveal that she was married to him. Rather, he wanted her to tell people that she was his sister because he was afraid that otherwise they might kill him.
Lot knew the truth, however, and he could have informed the Egyptians of the true nature of their relationship, whereupon Avraham would have been killed and Lot would marry off Sarah, thereby making a lot of money. So he could have stabbed his uncle Avraham in the back and made his fortune – but he did not do that and because of that action, he was saved from Sodom. But this raises more questions than it answers.
The Torah records how Lot risked his own life to be hospitable to guests in Sodom – which, on an objective scale, is a much greater deed than keeping shtum about Avraham. So why was it in the merit of the latter that he was saved? We must remember that Lot was raised in the house of Avraham – the epitome of kindness – so to put his life on the line for strangers to bring them into his house was second nature for Lot, for the reason that that was the way he had been raised. As great a deed as it was on an objective scale, subjectively for Lot it was not a particularly difficult struggle. Whereas we know that Lot had a problem with money.
He moved to Sodom even though the people were totally wicked there, because the land was fertile and there he could make his fortune. Therefore, it is likely he would have been very tempted to betray his uncle Avraham and because he resisted that temptation he merited to be saved.
Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler refers to this as the principle of ‘the point of choice’. Everybody is placed into different situations. Our task then is to make the very best decision we can between whatever options might have been set up in front of us.
If we make the right decision, especially if it was a struggle for us, regardless of whether it was a particularly difficult task or not, then we have achieved exactly what God wanted us to accomplish – and then we are given great credit.
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