Vayera: No Pain, No Gain
Rabbi Yonah Burr
Although it was well known that Sodom had a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy towards welcoming guests, kindness, charity, and simple decency, Lot risked his own safety to welcome the visitors into his home. He even offered to sacrifice his own daughters to the rabble to spare his guests any dishonor. While we might say his sacrifice was misplaced and misguided, certainly his heart was in the right place. He surely deserves at least some credit for his commitment to the mitzvah of Hachnosas Orchim!
Yet, when Lot was indeed saved from the destruction of Sodom, the Torah tells us:
ויהי בשחת אלקים את ערי הככר ויזכר אלקים את אברהם וישלח את לוט מתוך ההפכה בהפך את הערים אשר ישב בהן לוט
When Hashem destroyed the cities of the plains, and Hashem remembered Avrohom, and He sent Lot from the upheaval when he overturned the cities in which Lot had lived.
What is meant by “and Hashem remembered Avrohom”? Rashi explains that Hashem remembered that which Lot did for Avrohom. When Avrohom entered Mitzrayim and claimed that Sarah was his sister, Lot knew the truth, and could have turned in Avrohom in return for much monetary gain. Nevertheless, Lot kept quiet and did not reveal Avrohom’s secret.
It would seem strange that, given Lot's tremendous self-sacrifice for his guests, the one merit he had to be saved was not that but something seemingly much smaller, which any commoner would do -- not to turn his uncle in for money!
Explains the Alter of Slobodka; the reason Lot performed such tremendous hospitality was because he saw it in the house of Avrohom. He grew up with that, and knew no different. It was ingrained in him from his early childhood. If anything, the credit for that goes to Avrohom and Sarah, who did such a great job raising Lot! Lot’s own merit needed to come from something that he did himself.
Lot had a weakness for money and materialism. In fact, Lot was aware of Sodom’s depravity, but chose to live there anyway due to its fertile and rich land. He would do anything for money. Not turning his uncle in was a tremendous challenge for him. He passed that test on his own, and that turned out to be the merit needed to save himself from the destruction.
We often say that we do well in many areas, we don’t need to work on the areas that we are weak in. But sometimes, it is those very areas that will yield the most reward. The issues that pose the biggest challenge is where lies the biggest gain!
Have a wonderful Shabbos!