Copy Right 2022
Rabbi Dr Zvi Aviner
Abraham Opposite Sodom –Forever?
How would you envision Sodom and Gomorrah? Most people would see them drinking wine and surrounded by naked women. That it how they are depicted in Hollywood movies. As if they are in a weekend party on a campus of an American College. But would YHVH overturn such a party with fire and brimstones? Such people destroy themselves, and there is no need for Heavenly intervention. Surely, Sodom and Gomorrah present something more than sexual orgies.
In fact, reading how the Rabbis in the Midrash depict them, we can get a totally different vision of them. The Sodomite Society (SS) was well organized, run by orders and laws which were strictly observed, ruled by people wearing elegant suits and evening gowns enjoying classical concerts. You wouldn’t notice how much evil is committed outside in their name.
So, what was the Sin of Sodom?
The Torah says about Sodom –
“And the people of Sodom were sinners
and exceedingly evil to YHVH (13:12)
The Torah mentions two aspects of their sin –
1: They were sinners, violating ELKM’s Laws
2: They were exceedingly evil in YHVH eyes, meaning they were cruel, indifferent to human pains, doing everything that the Merciful Attribute YHVGH hates.
What did they do?
Rashi explains: “They knew their MASTER (OWNER,) Ribonam, yet rebelled against Him”.
Hence, they were not idol worshippers like the Canaanites. In contrast, they knew YHVH yet rebelled. That point is extremely important. One may not know YHVH, like living in a remote civilization or in a jungle, and commit evil out of ignorance. That is different from one who has attended Sunday school, has learned the Bible, and yet rejected it – with open rebellion., doing the opposite.
They knew their Master
Rash is also saying: “The Sodomites knew their Master, Ribon, yet rebelled against Him.”
The term Ribon, Master, or Owner is the Aramaic version of the Hebrew Adon, a master or an owner of slaves. In fact, ‘ribbon’ is the origin of ‘rabbi’ that was used in
the Second Temple times for a revered teacher. in Abraham’s time, Ribon was
interchangeable with the Hebrew Adon, a master of a slave or an owner to land or a territory.
Why is the term important? For iit was Abraham who was the first to call YHVH as My Master, AaDoNai. By this, Abraham expressed total submission to any verdict of HaSheM. It is the same idea oof the Circumcision – the emblem of our Master in our flesh (Seforno).
Later in the story, when the King of Sodom offers Abraham to share with him a loot,
Abraham rejects him saying:
“I’ve lifted my hand and swore to YHVH, the supreme El Who OWNS (purchases) the Heavens and the Earth, that I would not share with you a thing, from a thread to a shoelace.”
As we’ve learned, Abraham came to recognize YHVH as the OWNER of the world, by observing nature. Seeing how the world is beautiful and run by wisdom, Abraham said:
The world is like a CASTLE which has an “Architect” or a “Builder.” If so, the BUILDER OWNS by the virtue of the artist right to own his art.
From here Abraham taught people to give thanks to G-d for our food, fine clothes, and for everything we enjoy in this world. Otherwise, we would be considered “stealing” from Him!
Progression of titles
Hence Abraham contribution to our faith was making G-d closer to us. Thus –
Adam knew the CREATOR as a CREATOR. Then in Eden he knew Him also
as a KING, when He “commanded” on Adam not to eat the forbidden tree.
He also knew G-d in Eden as Our FARTHER in Heavens, advising Adam about the Tree, then came
Noah who faced the HEAVENLY COURT, then came
Abraham who called YHVH My Master, AaDoNai , which is closer title than all the above. For my master is closer to me than my king or my creator.
A salve has an access to the most intimate surrounding of his Master, more than a son to his father or a citizen to a king.
Thus, according to Rashi, the Sodomites were familiar with Abraham’s teaching about G-d as Ribon, Our Master, Owner, yet rebelled against that teaching.
How did they know YHVH? Most likely from Shem, Noah’s son, who was still running his famous Torah Academy of Shem in nearby Jerusalem. The Sodomites knew YHVH from Shem, yet rejected Abraham’s new teaching. But not only they rejected they rebelled against it by performing it opposite, with mockery.
Hence their posture and self-identification were AGSINST ABRHAM. That was their ID card. It reminds us a modern Sodomite Society that identified itself in the same way. They said: We don’t’ fight the USA, and the UK, or the USSR, we fight against Abraham’s seed and their faith.
How did the Sodomites express their rebellion?
The Talmud offers many stories about Sodom to illustrate how they managed to be both “Sinners” and “Exceedingly Evil to YHVH.”
We’ll focus on three points they did as the opposite of Abraham:
- Abraham was charitable.
- He welcomed guests.
- He catered to the sick.
They did the opposite. How?
Abraham practice charity. He planted the Aeshel Tree – an acronym in Hebrew for food, drinking and sleeping. He built hotels on crossroad where he catered to the poor tfree, asking nothing in return – besides giving thanks to G-d Who Owns Everything.
In short, the rabbis said, Abraham motif was: “mine is yours, yours is yours.”.
He also said the same to HaShem: “mine is yours, and yours is yours” – everything is yours, since you are the Owner of the Heavens and the Earth – AaDoNaI.
The Sodomites held the opposite motif: “mine is mine, yours is yours.” On the surface it sounds nice, promoting individuality. As if saying “keep your business for yourself.” They did not believe in charity, only in earning one’s livelihood. They did not have any social safety net. And they did not share anything.
They also said the same to HaSheM: Yours is Yours, Ours is Ours. G-d, keep your morality to yourself, and let us keep our morality down here to ourselves. We are content to run our own life by our own moral laws.
If Abraham believed that the Shechinah should enter our world and our hearts, molding it to Her values of compassion and love, the Sodomites believed that the Shechinah should remain “upstairs,” leaving us to run our own life as needed in this word.
Modern Sodomite Society preached the same. They knew the Bible, but saw it as an invasion of their natural morality as they defined it. Their troops trotted the streets arrogantly with goose march, announcing: we are the masters here. You G-d stay away!
How did they practice charity in rebellion?
The Talmud gives an example to illustrate the point.
A poor stranger wonder into Sodom. The people direct him politely to the city plaza where he would get help. They smile at him with their Sodomite smile. The stranger goes to the plaza and sits on a bench, and to his surprise every passing Sodomite throws at him some money, even silver and gold coins. “How nice the Sodomites are!” He thinks for himself and then he goes to the nearest store to buy food. “I have lots of money, and I am hungry,” he says to the store owner, “give me this and that.”
The store owner asks: “Is that charity money? If yes, I can’t sell you anything using it. That’s the law. Get some work, and come tomorrow/”
The next day he fries to find some work, but no one dares to employ him since he is not a citizen. He sits on the bench in the plaza and everyone throws at him precious coins, but he is already aware of his dire situation. Again, he tries to purchase food but they refuse to sell him using charity money. When he tries to escapes the city, the guard refuses to let him out on account that he owns taxes to the city council.
After such few days they find his emaciated body lying dead on the bench, with a large pile of money by his side. The Sodomites bring their children to watch him saying in false piety: “Look how money can’t get everything!
They smile and laugh with the children when they say those words
Welcoming the Guests: SODOMITE BED
Abraham excelled in welcoming the gusts. The Torah describes how he sits by his tent door – at the hottest time of the day – waiting for passengers to pass by him so he would cater to them. cater to them.
The Sodomites too announced that they welcome the guests. They even posted an arch at the city entrance to direct any stranger to the local hotels.
As the story goes, when a stranger wonders into Sodom the sign directed him to the hotel. The Sodomite clerk greets him with a famous Sodomite smile, saying: “Welcome, we have for you a room free of charge for the first night.”
And when giving th estranger the keys, the clerk assures him that he has food and drinks in his room, also free of charge for the first night. “We will also come later to check your bed, if it fits your body,” he says to the stranger.
The stranger than goes happily to his room, thing how nice the people of Sodom are. He eats and drinks the free food, like in Abraham’s hotels, and he falls asleep. Later at night the hotels’ people knock on the door saying they come, as promised, to check the bed.
When the stranger opens the door, they rush in, holding yard sticks and axes in their hands. They laugh and are drunk. They grab him and stretch his body over the bed. If the bed w is too long hey stretch his body till his bones break apart. If the bed is too short, they cut his legs to fit the bed’s length. And as they perform their evil, and bloodshed, they laugh and have much fun, which betrays the fact that they KNEW WHAT THEY SHOUDL HAVE DONE, YET THEY DID THE OPPOSITE.
Another story demonstrating how they twisted the idea of welcoming the guests.
As the three Angles entered the city to overturn it, they were hosted by Lot, Abraham’s nephew. Then, at midnight –
“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.”
On the surface they sound nice, welcoming the guests. They seem to wish to know the newcomers, to find about their business, etc. But in fact, used wished to “know” them sexually, to torture them with a Sodomite Act. For Lot told them –
“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.”
The Sodomite used conception, mis presentation to hide their real intention to perform evil, while transgressing ELKM’s laws.
Healing the Sick
The Daughter of Lot
Another example of the way the Sodomites performed the opposite of Abraham is the way they treated their own sick people.
Abraham, as we’ve learned, built hospitals to cater for the sick free.
The Sodomites too built fancy hospitals, but forbade the physicians to heal anyone, for they said in false piety – Let G-d do what He wishes to do, and let Man do what we can do. Let’s not mix G-d’s morality with ours. They said to G-d: Yours is Yours, ours is ours. You, God, run your world up there, and let us run our world down here.
The Torah says that when YHVH heard “Her Cry” He unleashed His Sword and said “Let me go down to see if that cry is true!” The cry moved the heart of the Heavenly Court. KALAH (18 :21)
Whose cry, was it? The Midrash says Lot’s daughter’s friend became sick and was hospitalized, yet no one dared to treat her. As she was dying. Lot’s daughter sneaked at night to the hospital and treated her friend with medications, so she stayed alive.
When the Sodomites discovered what Lot’s daughter did, they brought her to a judge who smiled at her sarcastically sating: “How sweet you are!” He then ordered to smear her body with honey, tie her naked to a pole in the main plaza, then release around her vicious bees.
As she was dying in severe agony, it was her her cry w that stirred up the Merciful YHVH to unleashed His Awesome Sword.
The rabbis said that Lot’s daughter cry turned the Merciful YHVH into a Vengeful.
This way the Sodomites violated all the Seven Commandments of Noah, with laughter and mockery.
We saw how they committed IDOLATRY by telling God to stay up while they rule the world.
They committed ADULTERY like homosexual torture,
They committed BLOODSHED with excessive cruelty, like in the Sodomite Bed,
How did the violate THEFT?
How did they Violate THEFT
When a group of Sodomites decided to rob a house, they knew that onne is not liable by the law if he is stealing a small item, worth less than item a perutah. So each took out a small portion, but together they ransacked the entire house.
When brought before the Sodomite judge, he praised them for being so careful with the law and released them from jail. That is how they could be exempt from punishment by ELKM’s Law, yet they were exceedingly evil in YHVH eyes.
How did the Sodomites practice
he opposite of Civil Order?
The Midrash, written more than 2000 years ago, describes how the Sodomites had nice rules of social order yet they did the opposite.
They held a democratic election for the city council, only that they voted for the following characters:
When the three entered their office, they abolished all civil rights and appointed the Master Thieves as their king.
That was the reason that Abraham later refused to share with him from a thread to a shoelace.
So much they did the opposite of Abraham, that the Torah devotes a whole section about it.
The Angels Observed Sodom.
When the three angels came to overturn Sodom, they first visited Abraham. He welcomed them even though he was unaware of who they were. He catered for them wholeheartedly by himself, though he was a wealthy person with many servants.
The Torah says that as the angles set by Abraham’s table, they “observed” Sodom, and Rashi explains: Her “observed” means harsh scrutiny, with bad verdict.
Hence, from Abraham’s table, comparing the Sodomites to Abraham, the Sodomites looked very bad indeed. The angles decided that Abraham and Sodom are so much apart, that the Sodomites had to be overturn. As if both can’t live on the same planet.
Lot Separation from Abraham
To this place which iis the opposite of Abraham, came Lot who was also separated forever from Abraham. When Abraham found out that Lot’s people were stealing water from the locals, he told Lot in rage;
“Let’s depart from each other.
If you go to the right ‘ll go to the left,
and if you go to the left, I’ll go to the right “
Such a separation from Abraham is not seen in the Torah regarding anyone else but Lot. Then, indeed, Lot elected to settle in Sodom, also a place separated from Abraham. Lot found his allies.
The Sodomite culture continued into the nation of Moab, the descendants of Lot. When Moses and Israel passed by them on the way to the Holy Land, Moab refused to welcome them with bead and water.
G-d was so enraged, that He forbade Israel to intermarry with them FOREVER. Such a total separation from Israel is unique and shows a deep, spiritual difference between Sodom and Israel, Moab and Israel.
It seems that as Abraham ascends on the stage of history,
another culture, the opposite of Abraham, is also ascending, in open rejection and rebellion against Abraham and his faith.
Is there any hope for Abraham to prevail?
When Sodom was overturned, the verse says:
And so it was when ELKM destroyed the cities of the plains
that ELKM remembered Abraham,
so, He sent Lot from amidst of the upheaval …. (19: 29)
Lot was not forgiven. ELKM the JUDGE sent him out as a Heavenly Decree for the sake of Abraham. Lot would give birth to Moab, who would give birth to Ruth, who would join Abraham and give birth to David, who would give birth to the Messiah the Son of David. From a total separation, would rise unity, by the help of ELKM.
The OWNER of the world has spoken. He, as the OWNER, gave the Land of Israel to Israel, and He would cultivate humanity, as Bilaam said, to bring forth the Messiah ,out of the ashes of Sodom. Do you have a more fascinating story than this?
So, what exactly did they do?
The Midrash portrays their special way, becoming sinners and evil at the same time
How did they violate IDOLATRY?
Unlike their Canaanite neighbors, the Sodomites did not worship idols of wood and stones any more. They knew their CREATOR-OWNER, by name, and yet rebelled against Him. Their IDOLARTY was specific, rejecting Abraham’s faith
How did They Violate ADULTERY with Mockery?
The Midrash gives the following illustration. A sodomite citizen accuses his wife with ADULTERY. “Do you have witnesses?” the Sodomite judge asks. “Of course,” the husband says. After listening to the witnesses very carefully, as the law demands, the judge tells the husband: “I am now convinced on the facts. You need to compensate your neighbor for taking care of your wife’s needs, for loving one’s neighbors is a great merit.” As he spoke, the judge hid a giggle behind his hand.
How did they violate BLOODSHED?
Another story of BLOODHSED
Eliezer, the servant of Abraham, wonders into the city. A person hit him on his forehead casing him to bleed. At the court, the Sodomite judge, order Eliezer to pay tributes to the perpetrator, since he has done healthy thing to him – shedding blood! The judge giggles behind his hand.
Eliezer then hit the judge on his forehead with his stick, causing him to bleed. “Now you pay him the money you owe me,” Eliezer says to the judge. .
Visiting the Sick
Unlike Abraham who built hospitals to care for the poor for free, the Sodomites built hospitals yet forbade the physician to heal the patient. They told the physicians in false piety: do not interfere with G-d’s plans.