Friday, November 11, 2011

Avraham's Liberal Views

Parshat Vayeira may possibly be the most exciting parshah in the entire Torah - especially the episode of the destruction of Sodom.  
Preceding the story of how Lot and his daughter's escaped, we find Avraham arguing with Hashem on behalf of the people of Sodom and trying to save them.

The society that Sodom had built was unequivocally evil.  From the Torah itself we see how the entire town was adamantly opposed to any form of kindness.  This was most likely a philosophical position.  They believed that to assist a person in need was not truly helping that person.  To truly help a person they had to be cruel and with hold any aid.  That would motivate the poor person to learn to fend for himself.  

The philosophy may have some merit to it, but the people of Sodom took it to the most dangerous extreme.  In Sodom poor people were left to die and those who tried to give charity were killed.

If that was the case, then why did Avraham stick his neck out for these wicked people?  Elsewhere, the midrash teaches us that one who has mercy on the cruel is causing cruelty to the merciful.  The people of Sodom had the blood of many righteous and merciful people on their hands.  If Hashem had listened to Avraham an spared them they would have gone on to kill other righteous people in the future. 

This is not a case of "where he is at" because the people of Sodom were already guilty.  Even if there were 50 righteous people, why couldn't Avraham just request that they be evacuated as lot was?

What are we supposed to learn from Avraham?  Should the Jews in America have protested against the war with Germany?  Maybe there were fifty righteous Germans?  Obviously not.  So what are we supposed to learn from Avraham's protest against the destruction of Sodom?

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