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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 18, v. 11: "V'Avrohom v'Soroh z'keinim bo'im ba'yomim chodal li'h'yose l'Soroh orach kanoshim" - And Avrohom and Soroh were elderly well into their old age Soroh experienced menopause as is the nature of women - We can interpret these words to mean that not only Avrohom, but also Soroh, was an elder, one who has amassed much wisdom and taught it to others, "Avrohom m'ga'yeir anoshim v'Soroh m'ga'yerres noshim." In general men influence and women are influenced, but not so with Soroh. "Chodal li'h'yose l'Soroh orach kanoshim," it came to a stop to Soroh to have the manner of women, to only be influenced. Rather, she had a profound influence on women. (Admor of Radomsk in Tiferes Shlomo)

Ch. 18, v. 19: "Ki y'dativ" - Because I love him - This is Rashi's translation. The verse in Yechezkeil 16:49 elaborates on the sin of S'dome. It says, "Hi'nei zeh hoyoh avone S'dome v'yad oni v'evyone lo hechezikoh." S'dome was very self-centred, only caring for the welfare of its own citizenry and not strengthening the hand of the poor and destitute. (Note that the numeric value of "oni" and "evyone" equals that of "tz'dokoh.")

Hashem told Avrohom of His planned destruction of S'dome. Although Rashi says that this was because five communities were to be destroyed and it would be inappropriate to not let Avrohom, the steward of Eretz Yisroel, know, we could possibly say, based on Hashem's reputation of telling the righteous of impending destruction before it took place to allow for the righteous to pray for a reprieve or rescinding of the decree, that this was likewise Hashem's intention here. Note how diametrically different Avrohom's behaviour was from that of the people of S'dome. Avrohom gave charity and invited people to his open home even in the most trying of circumstances, as dramatized in the first section of our parsha, when the three wayfarers came to him on a sweltering day, when he was exceedingly weak from his recent circumcision. One might think that even though Avrohom was a kind caring soul, but when made aware of the impending destruction of a heartless society, he might have the attitude of "It's coming to them." Nevertheless, we find Avrohom imploring Hashem to rescind His decree.

We can thus translates "Ki y'dativ" as EVEN THOUGH (af ki) I know of him that he teaches charity to his household, he will nevertheless put himself flat out to pray for mercy for S'dome. (Adaptation of parsha lecture heard from MVRHRH"G R' Yaakov Kamenecki zt"l)

Ch. 18, v. 19: "Laasose tz'dokoh umishpot" - To do charity and righteousness - These words teach us that it is insufficient to simply have a good heart and indiscriminately distribute charity. It has to be done with "mishpot," according to the law. There are priorities in whom to give ahead of others, such as the poor of your city before those of another city, and the appropriate amounts to give.

The GR"A similarly explains the words "V'lo sikpotz es yodcho, Ki foso'ach tiftach es yodcho" (Dvorim 15:7,8), the mitzvoh to not clench one's fist when giving charity, but to rather open one's hand, to mean that one should give charity in a calculated manner. When one's fist is clenched, what is visible is the equal length of the exposed joints of the fingers. This is symbolic of equality, that each petitioner should be given an equal donation. The Torah exhorts us to open our hand. When opened, we fully expose our fingers, which are of differing lengths, symbolic of the need to be discerning and to give different amounts for different needs.

Not only did Avrohom teach his household to be charitable, but he also taught that giving charity should be done with "mishpot." (Chochmoh Vodaas)

Ch. 18, v. 24: "B'soch ho'ir" - Within the city - Note that when Avrohom pleaded for the rescinding of the decree to destroy these communities in the merit of 50 righteous people, he predicated that they be "within the city." This means that they are involved in the daily activities of its citizenry. They are likely to right the cities through exuding positive spiritual vibes. Once Avrohom asked that they be saved in the merit of 45, Hashem responded that even if there were indeed only 45 SHOM, there, He would save them (verse 28). At this point Avrohom took the cue and when asking for the merit of 40 people he also said SHOM (verse 29), and he continued to do so by 30,20 and 10. The significance of SHOM is that it means "there far removed" (See Rada"k in his Sefer Hashoroshim and Haksav V'hakaboloh on Breishis 39:20). Avrohom asked for the merit of people who were not only not actively involved, but even if they were sequestered. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 19, v. 24: "Gofris vo'aish" - Sulfur and fire - Paa'nei'ach Rozo and Rada"k say that besides sulfur and fire, Hashem rained down salt, as per the verse in Dvorim 30, "gofris vo'melach k'maha'peichas Sdome." This was a deluge, a "mabul," of salt. Mabul has the same numeric value as melach.

The most noticeable remnant of the salt is the Dead Sea, which sustains no marine life. Rabbi Mayer Lau shlit"a explains that the name DEAD Sea is based on the concept of something alive takes and gives. All other bodies of water receive waters from other places and in turn also flow into other bodies. The Dead Sea, located in the lowest land level depression on earth, only takes down-flow, but does not give, hence it is DEAD.

Another explanation might be that all other bodies of water expel dead things, but retain live ones. The Dead Sea does not have this nature, as even a live thing, a human who is in the sea, cannot drown there (gemara Shabbos). It expels everything. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 21, v. 7: "Heinikoh vonim Soroh" - Soroh nursed children - Rashi explains that when the ministers and their nursing wives came with their children to Avrohom's festivity, they said that Soroh was too old to have given birth to a child, and in truth she picked up a waif from the street and claimed him as her son. To lay these claims to rest Soroh nursed each of their children, hence the plural "vonim." The gemara relates that Rabbi Yehudoh haNosi's mother once nursed Antoninus, and this brought about an emotion in him to be understanding of and caring for the Jewish religion, as dramatized by his special relationship with Rabbi Yehudoh haNosi. Is there recorded anywhere the positive results of Soroh's nursing these children?

Ch. 21, v. 16: "Va'teishev loh mi'neged" - And she sat herself across - Sh.O. Y.D. 339:4 writes that when a person is R'l in the stage of "go'seis," possibly a coma, we should make sure to always have someone with him so that his soul not depart him when he is alone. If so, why did Hogor distance herself from her son?

Sefer Chasidim #234 writes that this is only true of others, but close relatives who cry and scream out of pain for the deplorable condition of the gravely ill person should be removed from his vicinity because their crying, etc. is painful for the ill person when his soul will depart. Our verse tells us that Hogor "vatiso koloh vateivk," so she correctly distanced herself. (Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch shlit"a)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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