Reaching the Top

Cheshvan 17, 5783
November 11, 2022
Candlelighting Time 4:29 PM

            The evil city of Sodom had apparently reached its utmost limit of corruption and malice. The Sages describe the horrible treatment that was imposed upon wayfarers who had inadvertently chanced upon that wicked area. There was no concern for the needy, the poor or anyone in distress. Therefore, Hashem informed Avrohom that their end was near. Avrohom launches into an challenging dialogue with Hashem beseeching Him to lower the standards of survival and allow those cruel people to remain alive. He is ineffective and seemingly their date with destiny is now set.

            The angels of destruction arrive and are invited by Lot, Avrohom’s nephew who had settled in that sinful town, to lodge by him. The populace becomes aware of this arrangement and immediately attack Lot’s house demanding that he release his visitors to them. He refuses and a battle rages between the townspeople and Lot. The angels save the day and clout the people with blindness driving them away from their objective to harm them. However, it is noteworthy to wonder why this incident is important to be included in the Torah. After all, it would seem from the earlier verses in the Torah that their elimination was imminent. Is this narrative important within the context of their impending destruction?

            Netziv offers an amazing explanation. He cites the verse that states that the immorality occurring in Sodom was truly unsurpassed and indeed very depraved. However, as bad as they were, they had not ostensibly reached the ultimate height of decadence which then would seal their doom. Hashem doesn’t punish anyone unless they have truly run out of luck, they have reached a summit of degeneracy which is a point of no return. This incident with the angels and how the people wanted to harm them and Lot, was the proverbial  straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. At this point, Rashi explains that Lot was speechless and unable to provide any defense for his fellow citizens. He was only saved because he was Avrohom’s nephew and in his uncle’s merit, he was allowed to escape.

            This concept applies also for the good. When we need extra merits in order to access Hashem’s mercy, then we are offered that opportunity as well. When the nation was in Egypt and the time came for their exodus, we were in a state of spiritual malaise. Although it was time for Hashem’s promise to be fulfilled, nonetheless, the nation was ill-prepared. They had been steeped in slavery and the demented condition of Egypt for many years. Their credits to escape the bondage were deficient, yet it was time to leave. Hashem commanded them to perform the mitzvos of circumcision and sacrificing of the Pesach offering. They accomplished  those two mitzvos and that gave them the right to abscond from their Egyptian masters.

            Both instances provide us with an appreciated understanding of Hashem’s benevolence. Even those who are malicious and vicious are given a last-minute retrieval to improve their awful ways. And when we need the extra support from Hashem to permit us to garner assistance, we are supplied with that aid. Hashem’s mercy is ongoing, we must just attempt to connect with Him and then we will merit what we require to accomplish our goals.


Lot’s sons-in-law didn’t believe the angels that Sodom was slated for destruction. Their guile led them to their own graves. It’s better to listen then to be too smart.                                                    Chofetz Chaim