Back to Parsha homepage

The Weekly Internet
P A R A S H A - P A G E
by Mordecai Kornfeld
of Har Nof, Jerusalem
Founder of the Dafyomi Advancement Forum

Previous issues

The 5 FREE DAFYOMI MAILING LISTS are up and running! It is now possible to have *all* of the Dafyomi study material that is available on the DAFYOMI ADVANCEMENT FORUM sent directly to your email address. Let your dafyomi shiur become a fascinating, yeshiva-style learning experience! Find answers for everything you wanted to know but had nobody to ask!

Just write to:, the message should say *only*: sub [list-name] Your Name. (To join multiple lists, start a new line for each list.) Listnames are: daf-insights, daf-background, daf-questionofday, daf-review, and daf-discuss. Don't leave out the hyphens!

*** Please contact me if you would like to dedicate a Parasha-Page. Spread Torah through the farthest reaching medium in all of history!


Parashat Vayera 5757


When Hashem destroyed Sodom and Amorah, He remembered Avraham and sent Lot (Avraham's nephew) out of the mayhem (Bereishit 19:29) "Hashem remembered Avraham" -- In what way did Hashem remember Avraham when He saved Lot? Hashem remembered that Lot knew Sarah was Avraham's wife, yet when he heard Avraham tell the Egyptians that Sarah was his sister [so that they should not kill him in order to take his wife], Lot did not reveal the truth. Lot saved Avraham's life, so Hashem in return protected Lot from the fate of the city of Sodom. (Rashi) What make Lot's actions in Egypt so praiseworthy? What sort of self-sacrifice did Lot display by not telling the Egyptians that Avraham was married to Sarah? A person who does not murder his friend when the opportunity arises deserves no reward for his "restraint"! Before we attempt to answer these questions, let us take a closer look at the background of Sodom's destruction.


Why were the inhabitants of Sodom punished so severely? The Torah tells us that before its destruction, the valley of Sodom was the most fertile land in Israel (Bereishit 13:10). This undoubtedly brought great wealth to its settlers. The Sodomites realized that they would be highly sought after for their wealth. Strangers would frequent their land, hoping to beg for themselves a share in Sodom's rich natural resources. But the Sodomites were not ready to share their wealth. They passed laws to the effect that no inhabitant of their land may welcome visitors. Rather, they must treat the hapless stranger who should pass through their domain in as cruel and inhumane a way as possible (Bereishit 19:5; Rashi 18:21, 19:26; Gemara Sanhedrin 109a). Their tremendous greed brought about their destruction. When Hashem destroyed the cities of the fertile Sodom valley, their fertile soil was transformed into a barren wasteland. Lot himself suffered from uncontrollable greed. The cause of friction between his shepherds and those of Avraham was that Lot's shepherds allowed their animals to graze in others' pastures -- despite the fact that Lot was independently quite wealthy (Bereishit 13:5-7 and Rashi). It was his greed, that brought Lot to choose Sodom as his place of residence (Ibid. 13:10-11). Even after being warned of the imminent destruction of Sodom, Lot tarried in an attempt to salvage his wealth -- Hashem's messengers had to physically remove him from Sodom so that he wouldn't be killed with the Sodomites (Rashi 19:16). It was because of his greed that Lot deserved to have his fate sealed with that of the Sodomites, were it not for his righteous actions during Avraham's stay in Egypt.



Avraham did not trust the Egyptian people. "You are an attractive woman," he told his wife Sarah as they approached Egypt. "I am afraid that if they realize that I am your husband, the Egyptians will kill me and take you for themselves. Claim to be my sister -- that way, not only will the Egyptians allow me to live, they will shower me with gifts on your behalf." (Bereishit 12:11-13 and Rashi). Clearly, the lot of a beautiful woman's brother is monetary compensation and respect. Avraham was, in fact, given a considerable reward when Sarah was later taken to the Egyptian king (12:16). But who truly was Sarah's brother? Sarah was the daughter of Avraham's brother Haran (Bereishit 11:29 and Rashi). Lot was Haran's son (11:27). Lot was Sarah's true brother! [It may even be suggested that Avraham was taking advantage of this fact when he called himself Sarah's brother. Avraham and Lot were identical in appearance (Rashi, Bereishit 13:8). Even their difference in age did not make them distinguishable (Bava Metzia 81a). Perhaps Lot waited outside of Egypt while Avraham entered with Sarah claiming that he was really Lot, Sarah's brother!] Had Lot simply told the Egyptians that Avraham was Sarah's husband and not her brother, then Lot himself -- Sarah's true brother -- would have received all the royal gifts. His greedy nature was undoubtedly driving him to reveal Avraham's secret and reap rewards from the royal coffers! Yet Lot resisted this impulse, and didn't betray his uncle Avraham.



We can now appreciate why Lot was saved from sharing the fate of Sodom due to his restraint while Avraham was in Egypt. How did the merit of keeping Avraham's secret save Lot from the fate of Sodom? Because that virtuous act showed that he, unlike the other inhabitants of Sodom, *was* able to control his greed. In this merit, he was singled out from the other inhabitants of Sodom to survive the city's destruction!

To receive the fax edition (Israel only), fax me at (02) 652-2633.
To receive the Parsha-page via Email send a request to

Back to Parsha homepage | Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.
For information on subscriptions, archives, and other Shema Yisrael
Classes, send mail to

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel