Machon Daniel Torah Weekly
“To Stir the Mind and to Light up the Shabbos and the Holidays”
Parshas Lech Lecha
A Holy Spark of Kedusha was Hidden in Lot’s Soul
“וילך אברם כאשר דבר אליו ה’ וילך אתו לוט” (בראשית יב:ד)
“And Avram went as Hashem spoke to him and Lot went with him” (Bereishis 12:4)
The Parsha begins”ויאמר ה’ אל אברם לך לך מארצך וממולדתך ומבית אביך אל הארץ אשר אראך” / “And Hashem said to Avrum go to you/for you from your land and from your birth place and from your father’s home to the land which I will show you” (Bereishis 12:1). In our posuk, “וילך אברם כאשר דבר אליו ה’ וילך אתו לוט” the Torah tells us that Avrum fulfilled Hashem’s command to him. By doing so, he willingly broke his ties not only from the physical aspects of the land but even more so from its spiritual level, for Avrum left Ohr Kasdim in order to follow the Word of Hashem and in order to come closer to Him and His ways and especially in the Holy land of Israel!
Accordingly, that which the posuk adds “וילך איתו לוט” / “and Lot went with him” is very difficult to understand, and this for four reasons:
- Hakadosh Baruch Hu commanded Avrum saying “לך לך” / “go to you/for you”, meaning him alone (with his wife and servants),
- Was Lot on the spiritual level of Avrum so he took could undertake this so difficult test of leaving all that was familiar and dear to him and depart for a land unknown to him, and all this in order to spread Hashem’s Name in the land!?
- And, even if we can find a legitimate reason for his joining Avrum on his journey, was Lot on the level of Avrum to the point where the wording of the posuk suggests that he was equal to or very similar in spiritual status to Avrum as it says – “וילך איתו לוט” / “and Lot went with him”!?
- And, more difficult to understand than all the above, the Torah informs us that Lot was a wicked person as it states “וישא לוט את עיניו וירא את כל ככר הירדן כי כולה משקה לפני שחת ה’ את סדום… ויבחר לו לוט את כל ככר הירדן ויסע לוט מקדם ויפרדו איש מעל אחיו… ואנשי סדום רעים וחטאים לה’ מאד” / “And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all of the land of the Yarden as it was all well-watered before Hashem destroyed Sodom… And Lot chose for himself all of the land of the Yarden and Lot traveled from the east and the two men (Avrum and Lot) separated from one another, each person above his brother… And the people of Sodom were especially wicked and sinful before Hashem” (ibid 13:10-13).
That is, Lot went after the desires of his eyes and his heart to benefit from all the physical luxuries of this world, and this even though the connection to them presented three major lackings:
- The people of Sodom were very wicked toward their fellow man and rebelled against Hashem’s commands,
- Lot apparently understood that Hashem was going to destroy Sodom and Amora, and nevertheless he was undeterred by it and established his home in Sodom,
- He saw that Avrum, his righteous uncle, stayed clear of Sodom and its people and even so Lot did not go with Avrum as he went with him when they left Ohr Kasdim. And by doing, so he demonstrated that he despised the ways of the righteous until the point where he was willing to ignore all that was told to him about the wicked people of Sodom. (There are commentaries who play down the wickedness of Lot and others say he was a righteous person.)
From all the above reasons it would seem obvious that Avrum should not have taken Lot with him to Eretz Yisrael, and certainly the posuk should not have compared Lot to Avrum saying “וילך איתו לוט”! At this point we are left in a quandary!
Similar to that which we have stated above I found in the sefer Imrei Noam (Parshas Lech Lecha) who says as follows: Avraham did not want that Lot would go with him for he knew of Lot’s true low spiritual level and he did want to be negatively influenced by him, and that this was a very difficult test he was forced to stand up to – to listen to the voice of Hashem to take Lot with him.
Now Lot’s behavior was not a new occurrence in his family, rather he inherited it from his father. That is, Lot was the son of Haran who died before Avrum left Ohr Kasdim (see ibid 11:28) and Rashi explains that the reason for his untimely death was that he did not stand by Avrum when Nimrod threw him into the fiery furnace. Only afterwards, when he saw that Avrum was saved from the fire did he claim that he was on Avrum’s side. This showed that he was a dishonest person, looking out only for his personal gain. This approach to life was handed down to his son Lot as he too did not accompany Avrum to Eretz Yisrael in order to fulfill Hashem’s command and was not interested as well in coming closer to Hashem. Only, when he saw that Avrum was saved from the fire, he quickly joined forces with him for his own good. Similarly, we find that Potipher only placed Yosef in charge of his household when he saw that Hashem was with him (see ibid. 39:2).
Also, the fact that the posuk states “וילך איתו לוט” and not “וילך עמו לוט” and it is known that “עמו” suggests an inner connection and “איתו” an external one, we understand that Lot did not accompany Avrum for altruistic reasons but only for his own good as stated above and as we will see again later on in this essay.
[If you’ll ask that we do find the wording of “עמו” used regarding Lot’s relationship with Avrum as it states”ויעל אברם ממצרים הוא ואשתו וכל אשר לו ולוט עמו…” / “And Avrum went up from Egypt, him and his wife and all his belongings and Lot with him…” (ibid. 13:1)!?
We can answer this question with Rashi’s commentary on the posuk”ויזכור אלקים את אברהם וישלח את לוט מתוך ההפכה” / “… and Hashem remembered Avraham and sent out Lot from the destroying… (ibid. 19:29) and Rashi explains, what did Hashem remember about Avraham regarding Lot? He remembered that Lot knew that Sarah was Avraham’s wife and when he heard Avraham say to the Egyptians that she was his sister, he remained quiet and did not reveal the truth to the Egyptians for he had pity on Avraham. Therefore, Hashem had pity on Lot and saved him from being killed with the destruction of Sodom. We learn from the explanation Rashi that [even reason why the posuk uses the wording “עמו” and not “איתו” is not meant to teach us that Lot followed in the path of Avraham, but only to give praise to Lot for having had pity on Avraham.
Behold, we find as well that Lot’s name is not mentioned along with Avraham’s when the Torah speaks of Avraham’s efforts to spread the Word of Hashem to the inhabitants of Canaan, hinting to the fact that Lot was not truly interested in the holy pursuits of Avraham but was only looking out for his own good. And so we find that he achieved his goal as the posuk states”וגם ללוט ההולך את אברם היה צאן ובקר ואהלים” / “And also to Lot who was going with Avraham there was sheep and cattle and tents” (ibid. 13:5).
Until now we have understood why Lit went with Avraham, but we still need to answer why Avraham took the evil Lot with him!?
Before we clarify this point, the Torah tells us that Lot was saved from almost certain death numerous times, and always at the hands of Avraham. For example, after Lot separated from Avraham and settled in Sodom, a war broke out between the four kings and the five kings and Lot was captured along with all the people of Sodom. Who was he saved by? Avraham (see ibid. 14:14-16)! We must ask, why was Avraham so quick and diligent to save Lot, who had proved himself to be an evil person, until he risked his life to save him!?
Now, we find that after this episode, Lot did not draw the expected conclusions that the truth was with Avraham, but returned to Sodom and continued in his old ways and ignored the terrible behavior of the people of Sodom on which the posuk states “זעקת סדום ועמורה כי רבה וחטאתם כי כבדה מאד” / “the scream of Sodom and Amora is great and their sin is tremendously heavy” (ibid. 18:20). Even so, Avraham stood and davened/prayed for the people of Sodom and Amora that they should be saved from the heavenly decree to destroy them. Now, Avraham was not able to save the people of Sodom and Amora or to prevent the destruction of the cities, but his prayers did help to save Lot and his family from death.
Now, even after having being saved again by Avraham as he watched the whole of Sodom and Amora go up in flames, this did cause him to repent. Rather he continued on his path of evil and slept with his two daughters. Was this Avraham’s intention when he fought from Lot and davened to save him from sure death – to see his nephew fall to the lowest level of human behavior!?
Why then, after all this, did Avram take Lot with him to Eretz Yisrael? We can suggest, with G-d’s help, that although the sages have taught us that Avraham through his tremendous deeds and devotion to Hashem he was able to correct the original sin of Adam and he himself returned to the state of man in Gan Eden (see ibid. 27:27 and in Rashi’s commentary), and even though he, together with Yitzchok and Yaakov merited their seed to receive the Torah at Sinai through which the Jewish people as a whole returned to the state of Gan Eden as did their forefathers, Avrum knew that a critical part of the spiritual puzzle of the redemption of mankind was I bedded deep in the recesses of the soul Lot!! The posuk calls Lot “לוט בן אחיו” / “Lot the son of his brother” (ibid. 12:5). Now in English this phrase doesn’t tell us much but the Hebrew hinds in it a hint to that which mentioned above. That is, if we expand each letter into a word it will read “”בן אחיו” – ב‘ו נ‘מצא א‘ותו ח‘לק י‘שר וקדוש / in him is found that part/spark which is straight and holy. Another hint to that we have stated above is that the numerical value of Lot equals that of Adam, meaning Lot is needed for his correction and completion.
Possibly, for this reason Avraham was so adamant in his refusal to benefit from the booty he rightfully earned when he rescued the king of Sodom and his people from the hands of the four kings, to show that his main interest in doing so was to guard the precious holy spirit which resided in the inner chambers of Lot’s soul.
Similar to this I found in the sefer Maor V’shemesh (Parshas Vayeishev) and there he says we find that Avraham Avinu sacrificed his life in order to save Lot from the four kings. Now it is very difficult to understand why Avraham would risk his life for Lot, for he certainly knew of the evil ways of Lot as the sages have taught us regarding that which the Torah states “ויסע לוט מקדם” / “and Lot traveled from the east” (ibid. 13:11) that it means that Lot “traveled” away from Hakadosh Baruch Hu who is called the One Who preceding the existence of the world (Medrash Bereishis Raba 41:7), however he saved him for he saw it a holy spirit that within Lot was the spark of Dovid Hamelech and the Moshiach!
Similar to this wrote the Bnei Yisusschar (Shabasos Essay 8) that the whole reason for Avraham’s taking Lot with him was because he saw the spark of kingship (Dovid) in him which was still in exile in his body and had not yet revealed itself in order to connect with holiness.
And do says the author of Chomas Anach (Bereishis 13:10) that the numerical value of Lot is the same as of Adam whose letters אד”ם allude to Adam, Dovid and Moshiach. And so says the sefer Igra d’Kala (pg. 92b) that the holy spark of the Moshiach was implanted in Lot. As it could not be revealed it stood in the state otherwise exile. The Yalkut Reuvani adds that this is the explanation of that which the sages have told us that Lot had the same appearance as Avraham – for he held the key to the redemption of Adam Harishon within him!
From all the above, we now have a completely new understanding of the posuk “וילך אברם כאשר דבר אליו ה’ וילך אתו לוט” / “And Avram went as Hashem spoke to him and Lot went with him”. That is, Avrum went to Eretz Canaan not as he thought to do, that is to go with his wife and servants alone, rather”כאשר דבר אליו ה'” / “as Hashem told him”. That is, Hashem appeared to Avrum and told him to take Lot along with him for within him resides a spark of holiness needed for the completion of the Jewish people as well as for the redemption of the whole world!
The posuk concludes “וילך איתו לוט” teaching us that Lot went with Avrum on his own initiative and Avrum on one hand did not encourage Lot to join him so as not be negatively influenced by him and on the other hand did not discourage him for Hashem told him to take him out of Ohr Kasdim with him as we mentioned above. According to the above, all the questions have been answered and may it be His will that our words are accepted Above!
One more question, and that is, could Hashem not have delivered this spark of holiness to Dovid Hamelech and to the Moshiach in a holier way!?
The answer from the point of view of a baal mussar (one who is concerned with improving his character) is that if a person finds himself down and out, falling from sin to sin, the story of Lot should give him a new sense of strength to know that no matter how far he falls, he contains a spark of spirituality within him to help himself overcome his present behavior and to bring upon himself a full redemption!
May your home be filled with kedusha and simcha!
Have a nice Shabbos!