A Lot to Think About: Vayera 2020

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: Have you ever done a favor for someone because you cared about someone else? Did you feel resentful about doing the favor, or did it feel worthwhile?

When God saves Lot and his family just before the destruction of their city, it’s clear that God is mainly motivated to honor Abraham, not necessarily Lot:

The Pitch: “Thus it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the Plain and annihilated the cities where Lot dwelt, God was mindful of Abraham and removed Lot from the midst of the upheaval.” – Genesis 19:29

Swing #1: “How ironic that Lot is saved after all of Abraham’s bargaining with God. This Lot who accompanied Abraham and Sarah to Egypt during their sojourn with Pharaoh … seems, at least, to have learned Uncle Abraham’s good points. Like Abraham, who insists that the dirty-footed travelers come sit in his shade, Lot, too, takes them into the protection … of his roof-beams. But like Uncle Abraham also, Lot has learned an unfortunate lesson about what to do when feeling threatened: Offer your women to those who menace you.” – Burton L. Visotzky, The Genesis of Ethics

Swing #2: “What bearing has God’s remembering Abraham upon the rescue of Lot? He remembered that Lot knew that Sarah was Abraham’s wife and that when he heard that Abraham said in Egypt regarding Sarah, ‘She is my sister,’ he did not betray him because he had sympathy with him. For this reason God had mercy upon him (Lot).” – Genesis Rabbah

Swing #3: “Abraham is a different kind of survivor than Lot, who is marked by … blindness. Lot wants to run away from the catastrophe, but Abraham is shown to be a survivor in the form of historical witness: he was the necessary witness to Yahweh’s reaction to evil.” – David Rosenberg, Abraham: The First Historical Biography

Late-Inning Questions: What do our commentators think about Lot’s character? Is he saved more because of his own merit or because of Abraham’s merit? Should Lot feel lucky that God saves him? Or is this a case of “a win is a win”?

On-Deck at Temple Beth Tzedek: 2021 Entertainment Coupon books are now available in the synagogue office. The cost is $25 each. Please call the office at (716) 838-3232 if you would like one. They make great gifts. Coupons may begin being used immediately.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of “a win is a win”, what should Dodger fans make of Justin Turner? Their star third-baseman knew he was positive for COVID-19 when the team clinched the World Series championship, and celebrated among his teammates on the field in defiance of health protocols. Should Turner be shunned? Or is this likely to be forgotten by Dodgers fans who are happy to finally have their first championship in 32 years?

Shabbat Shalom!