© 2016 by Rabbi Zvi Aviner
Torah Class THEFT-10/Abraham Opposite Sodom, Forever!
Remember, we are learning about THEFT. Till now all the stories about Abraham revolved around it.
As he circumcised himself, the Torah brings the story of the overturning of Sodom and her allies.
Is there a connection of Sodom and Abraham’s struggle against THEFT? Let’s see.
ides Sodom the Opposite of Abraham
As soon as Abraham circumcised himself, while he was aching, three Angles appeared to him. They looked like ‘Arabs’ from far away land. Abraham did not hesitate. Still aching, he hosted them by himself, offered them waters to wash their foot then prepared them the best food.
Then, sitting by Abraham’s table, the three Angels watched Sodom and Gomorrah. And from his table the Sodomites looked bad indeed. They looked as the OPPOSITE OF ABRAHAM, as if Abraham and they could not live on the same planet. Hence the Angles deemed them to be OVERTURNED.
But Sodom and Gomorra are not historically dead. There have been and still many other cultures who declare themselves in public as being the OPPOSITE OF ABRAHAM and his seeds.
Who are they? How would you identify them?
For that we need to study the Sodomites in details.
Let’s also remember the names of the three Angels:
Rafael (El the healer) sent to heal Abraham from his pains
Gabriel (Strength of El) sent to overturn Sodom
Michael (who is like you, El) was sent to save Lot, Abraham’s nephew
1: What was Sodom?
Watching Hollywood movies about Sodom you’d get the wrong idea. You’d think that all they did was partying, drinking heavily and indulging themselves in wild, sexual orgies. How wrong!
The Torah says about them:
Rashi explains: “Evil to YHVH’: They knew YHVH yet rebelled against Him (her).” Hence the Sodomites’ sin was as follows:
1. “They Knew YHVH”: hence they were NOT idol worshippers. They knew YHVH and yet rebelled, they knew the Bible and did the opposite on purpose.
2. “They rebelled against Her”: They did the opposite of MERCY, COMPASSION AND FOGIVENESS. Hence they were unusually CRUEL and UNCOMPASSIONATE, on purpose.
”Evil to YHVH”: The emphasis is on YHVH. They did NOT rebel against ELoKiM and His Laws. They saw themselves Law Abiding people, and yet managed to enraging the Merciful YHVH. There are many cultures who proclaim they keep the Law yet they commit heinous evilness which enrage YHVH.
How did the Sodomite arrive at their faith? The commentaries offer several options:
1. The Sodomites retained the knowledge of YHVH from Noah, than rebelled against it.
2. The Sodomites learned about YHVH from Noah’s son, Shem, who lived nearby in Jerusalem, then rebelled against it.
3. The Sodomites recognize YHVH on their own then rebelled.
What did the Sodomites do to earn their bad reputation?
2: Sodom compared to Abraham
The rabbis reconstructed the Sodomite’s faith according to the text. They did the opposite of Abraham as follows:
Abraham loved YHVH, the Sodomites hated Her.
Abraham followed YHVH’s Merciful ways, the Sodomites were merciless on purpose. Abraham took care of the poor; the Sodomites took advantage of them.
Abraham spread the Seven Commandments of Noah, the Sodomites did their opposite.
The following stories depict the Sodomite’s culture:
Welcoming the guests:
Abraham greeted strangers, built kitchen, hotels and hospitals for the poor.
The Sodomites practiced the opposite WITH FUN.
Here is how they welcomed the guests:
A poor, hungry stranger wanders into Sodom. A sodomite citizen smiles at him and directs him to a nearby hotel: “Go there and they will host you for the night free of charge,” he tells the stranger.
When the strange renters the hotel, the clerk greets him warmly: “Welcome to Sodom!” he says, “here is a key to your free room. Later we’ll come to check your bed, to see whether it fits you well.”
The stranger thanks the clerk and is amazed by the hospitality of the Sodomites. He goes to his room, happy. Later at midnight the clerk knocks on his door. “Open up please, we want to check your bed,” the clerk says.
When the stranger lets him in the clerk enters accompanied with other Sodomites. They laugh. They grab the guest and stretch him on the bed to see whether his body fits the size of the bed. If the body is too short they stretch him till he cracks his bones. If his body is too long they cut his legs off with axes till his body does match the bed’s length. Throughout the ordeal they have a good time, laughing and mocking the poor guest. That laughter betrays the fact that they knew morality. they knew what Mercy is and yet rebelled against it.
The story of the ‘Sodomite Bed’ has become a metaphor for stretching the truth to fit a proposition.
The Sodomites knew charity yet did the opposite
A poor, hungry stranger wonders into Sodom. He sits at the Central Plaza, begging for food. To his surprise, the Sodomites treat him lavishly. They throw at him silver and gold, even precious jewelry. They look at him with their infamous Sodomite Smile. “What a nice place is Sodom!” The stranger thinks in his heart, “I wish I have come here before!”
After a short while the stranger collects his small fortune and enters a nearby grocery store. “Give ne this and that, I am so hungry!” he tells the seller. The seller welcomes him with his Sodomite smile and says: “Of course, but let me check your name.” He then reads at a note that had been posted on the store’s wall: “I am sorry,” he says the stranger, “your name appears here on the list that was issued by our City Council. It forbids me to sell you anything today. Please come back tomorrow.”
“But I am hungry,” the stranger says in horror, “here, I have the money!”
“You wouldn’t attempt to bribe me… I am a loyal citizen!” The seller says, “I told you: come back tomorrow!”
The stranger tries other food stores but they all say the same. He then tries to escape the city, but the guard checks his name on a list: ”The City Council forbids me to let you out today. Come tomorrow!” he tells the stranger.
Frustrated and hungry the stranger returns to the plaza and fall asleep on the bench, hugging his fortune. The next day the story repeats itself: the Sodomites throw at him silver and gold, yet he can’t buy anything. And he can’t leave the city.
A few days later he perishes from starvation, still holding the bag full of silver and gold. The Sodomites shoe hs emaciated body to their children: “See how money can’t buy everything!” They say in false piety, with laughter and fun.
Again, it is this laughter that betrayed their awareness of what charity should be. They knew mercy, they knew YHVH, yet they rebelled against her. They knew Abraham’s ways, but did the opposite with fun. As Rashi says: “they knew YHVH but rebelled against her.”
The Sodomites knew healing yet did the opposite
The Sodomite, like Abraham, built hospitals to treat the poor for free. Only that they passed a law that forbids the treatment of the sick, since “only YHVH can heal.” The perpetrator would be punished by death.
As it happened, Abraham’s nephew, Lot, had a daughter whose friend got sick and was hospitalized. Seeing her friend dying, unattended, Lot’s daughter sneaked in at night and gave her friend medications and food. When caught, the Sodomite judge told her with a Sodomite smile: “You are so sweet, my dear, so I’ll treat you accordingly.” He then ordered to smear her naked body with honey, tie her to a poll and then release a swarm of vicious bees at her. The bees attacked her viciously and she died in agony. On her YHVH said in alarm: “Let me go down and see, is that HER CRY?” ( Genesis 18: 21)
3: The Sodomites did the opposite of the Seven Commandments
In addition to the above, the Sodomite performed the opposite of Noah’s Seven Commandments. Thus they did the following:
The Sodomites “knew YHVH yet rebelled against Him,” thereby committing IDOLATRY by separating between the Attributes and enraging YHVH.
They violated ADULTERY
Have you heard about Sodomite Act? Here is the story:
As the three Angles came to the city they were hosted by Abraham’s nephew, Lot. Then this is what happened:
“Before they lay dawn, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, compassed the house around, both old and young, all from every corner, and they called to Lot and said to him: Where are the men who came in to you this night? Bring them out to us that we shall know them.
“And Lot went out at the door to them and shut the door after him and said, I pray you brothers, do not do evil, I have two daughters who have not known men, let me, I pray you, bring them out to you, and do to them as is good in your eyes, only to these men do nothing, seeing that they have come under the shadow of my roof.
“And they said, stand back, and they said again, this one fellow came in to sojourn, and he became a judge! Now we’ll deal with you worst then with them. And they strongly urged the man, Lot, and came near to break the door. But the Men put out their hands and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut the door. And they smote the men who were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and big, so that they wearied themselves to find the door.
“And the men said to Lot, have you here any besides? A son in law, any sons and daughters and whoever you have in this city. Bring them out of this place, for we will destroy this place, because the cry of them has grown great before the face of YHVH and YHVH has sent us to destroy it.” (Genesis 19:1-14)
The main points are:
Lot welcomed the guests, unlike the Sodomites
The Torah refers openly to the ‘men’ as ‘Angles.’
The Angels Michael saved lot, the angel Gabriel overturned Sodom.
The citizen of Sodom surrounded Lot’s house and spoke to him in deception, mockery and fun. Thus they demanded to ‘bring out the strangers so that we would ‘know’ them.’ Behind their apparently innocent words lies their evil inclination. They did not intend to ‘know’ the guest but rather to torture them sexually, to perform on them Sodomy. Hence they transgressed ADULTERY.
They performed BLOODSHED
The Sodomites saw themselves as law-abiding people, yet they practiced BLOODSHED. They killed innocent people, with fun. Here is their story:
Abraham’s servant, Eliezer, wonders to Sodom. A Sodomite attacks him so much that he bleeds. When Eliezer brought the attacker to the Sodomite Court the Judge says to Eliezer: “You should pay your attacker for causing you to bleed since he did you a favor. After all, bleeding is healthy!”
ELiezer then strikes the judge on his own head till he bleeds. “Now you owe me for casing you to bleed,” he tells the judge, “give this money to my attacker.”
They performed THEFT
The Sodomites knew well that under the Noahide Laws stealing is forbidden; yet stealing less than a minimum is exempt from retribution. A group of Sodomite thieves ransacked a home of wealthy person being careful that no thieve would take more than the minimum. Together they left nothing in the house. When brought before the Sodomite Judge he praised each one of the thieves for paying attention to the Law. This is why the Sodomites enraged YHVH, rather than ELoKiM.
They did INJUSTICE
The Sodomites held a ‘democratic election’ for the City Council/ It was a fair election, only that the elected officials were the following: ”Master Thief Master Liar, Master Robber and Master Killer.” Once elected, the Council abolished all civil rights.
”And YHVH said, the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is large and its sin is very heavy, Let me go down now, and I’ll see, If her cry which has come to me they did, then annihilation! Kalah! And if not, I’ll know!…” (Genesis 18:20-21)
“And YHVH rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from YHVH out of Heavens” (Genesis 18:24)
Note that Sodom was overturned by YHVH, not by ELoKiM.
How evil Man can be to warrant such a reaction from the Attribute of MERCY!
Note also that while ELHM punishes by water, like Noah’s Flood, as it says: “And the Spirit of ELHM was hovering over the water (Genesis 1: 2)
YHVH in contrast would act in vengeance against cruel people by showering on them brimstones and fire.
4: The Sodomite’s philosophy
What did initiate the Sodomite moral downfall?
Surprisingly, the rabbis said that the Sodomites began their spiritual downfall by following their philosophy saying: MINE IS MINE, YOURS IS YOURS.
Abraham in contrast, would say: MINE IS YOURS, YOURS IS YOURS.
wicked people would say: MINE IS MINE, YOURS IS MINE.
Thus the Sodomites’ decay began with their extreme view on OWNERSHIP. They believed in ultimate privacy: ‘Mine is mine and yours is yours.’ Under their system there was no common concern on the community. There was no safety net, each person taking care only for himself. That philosophy, so commonly heard today, rendered the sodomites insensitivity to human suffering. Their extreme individuality made them cruel. What a lesson to our own time!
5: Modern Sodom
Sodom did not die. It was resuscitated many times over, even in our times. In fact the modern Sodom excelled in evilness above her ancient counterpart.
Yes, I am referring to Nazi Germany. Why?
Like ancient Sodom, the Nazis defined themselves as the opposite of Abraham and his seeds, the Jews. Hitler announced that he struggled not against England or America, as much as against “international Jews.” Like ancient Sodom he stood in direct opposition to Abraham faith and his seeds.
Like ancient Sodom, the Nazis knew the Bible, yet did the opposite. They knew that all people descend from Adam and Eve, and that we are all equal under our Father in Heavens, yet they preached their racial superiority.
They were familiar with the ideas of morality, mercy, compassion, as taught by the Bible, yet they performed the direct opposite. They blamed Judaism for spoiling their natural “Arian spirit’ of ruthlessness.
Like ancient Sodomites, the Nazis performed their excessive evilness with mockery and fun. Their solders laughed while performing heinous crimes. That laughter betrayed their awareness of what true morality is.
Like ancient Sodom, the Modern Sodom believed the opposite of what Abraham believed. Abraham preached peace while they preached that “War is good and natural.” Abraham preached to care for the poor while they preached that the weak and sick “should be eliminated.’
Like ancient Sodom, the modern Sodom trapped their victims, denying them escape. The victims could not escape Nazi Germany for all the money in the world. Like in ancient Sodom, the evil guards closed the doors for the victims, claiming that they were obeying the law.
Like in ancient Sodom, the Modern one claimed to be a law abiding people; only that their laws were evil.
Like ancient Sodom, Nazi Germany deceived their victims, showing a Sodomite Smile. Their death camps carried welcome-signs claiming that “Work Makes a Person Free.” The newcomer victims were welcomed by music. Then they were taken to a ‘shower’ of poisonous gas.
Like ancient Sodom, the Modern Sodom elected their officials in a democratic way; only that that their leaders were: Master Thief, Master Liar, Master Robber and Master Killer. And like in ancient Sodom, the elected council abolished all civil rights.
Like in ancient Sodom, the Nazis built hospitals, but only as a façade. Doctors and Nurses walked around wearing white uniforms, yet performing euthanasia. They killed not only the Jews but also their own German sick and the invalids including wounded German soldiers.
Yes, the Nazi SS were Sodomite Soldiers.
The truth is that the cruelty of ancient Sodom paled in comparison to that of Modern Sodom. The Nazis, unlike the Sodomites, made toothbrushes out of human hair, soaps out of human fat and coats out of human skin.
Hence Sodom has not died. Her smoldering ashes are still alive and may erupt again any moment. As long as Abraham and his seeds live, Sodom would be alive too. In the end, though, YHVH would burn all evil from Man’s heart and the knowledge of YHVH would cover Earth like the waters cover the Sea.