Midreshet Amit


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Lessons from Lot

By: Mrs. Adina Mann

In Parshat Vayera, one of the characters we learn about is Lot. At first, we meet Lot at the gate of Sedom. Two men (who are actually malachim) come in, and Lot immediately greets them. He greets them in an almost identical way to that in which Avraham greeted the three men (malachim) who came to visit him. He greets them and bows to them, and insists they come sleep at his house. He gives them water to wash their feet, and makes for them a feast. Lot, just like Avraham, performs exemplary hachnasat orchim.

The people of Sedom, who as the Ramban teaches us, don't accept guests in their town, then surround Lot's house and demand that he hands over these guests. Lot again exemplifies righteousness as he goes out and refuses to hand over the guests.

However, the next thing Lot does is quite shocking. He tells the people of Sedom – "I'll give you my two daughters and you can do whatever you want to them, just don't do any harm to these people that came to stay under my roof."

How could Lot have suggested such a thing?! How could he offer his own two daughters, while at the same time, be so careful about protecting his guests?

There are many commentaries which deal with this question, and some even say that Lot wasn't really serious – maybe he was sarcastic or trying to prove a point to the people of Sedom, but he wasn't actually ready to give up his daughters. (Rabbenu Chananel and Abarbanel both offer different variations of this answer.)
Ramban, however, reads this as a completely serious offer. Lot, on the one hand, performs hachnasat orchim to its utmost in order to save these people who came under his roof, but at the same time he is willing to give up his daughters to be raped.

Lot here was influenced by two worlds. On the one hand, Lot grew up with Avraham, and learned many wonderful traits from Avraham. These traits became a part of who he is. On the other hand, as much as Lot had certain traits engrained in him, he was still influenced by the people of Sedom, a nation of immorality. He was therefore willing to give up his daughters, and as Ramban writes, he did not even view this as a corrupt way of behaving.

We thus learn an important lesson from Lot's character. The people by whom we choose to surround ourselves play a crucial role in our own growth and potential. When we surround ourselves by people who have good middot, we are affected by that and we adopt those middot as well. However, when we surround ourselves by people who do not have the same values as we do, it is much harder to stand up against that without being at all influenced.

May we all be zoche to be part of a community of people who share positive Torah values, in order that we can influence and be influenced by the values in which we believe.