Congregation Etz Hayim at Hollis Hills Bayside

The consolidated communities of Hollis Hills Bayside Jewish Center and Marathon Jewish Community Center

Shabbat Vayera 5778

Have you ever tried to look at the story of the destruction of Sodom from the perspective of the residents of that doomed city? Granted, it’s hard to do so because there were no survivors, other than Lot and his two unmarried daughters. So no one left any historical record of expressions of righteous indignation at having been unjustly targeted by a capricious deity. Nor, to my knowledge, has anyone ever written that the people of Sodom were merely trying to preserve their local traditions.

 Then there’s Avraham, who does indeed challenge God to consider the appropriateness of the Divine plan. “Far be it from You to do such a thing, to bring death upon the innocent as well as the guilty, so that innocent and guilty fare alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” (Genesis 18:25). God does not dispute Avraham’s argument; God merely points out that there aren’t any righteous people in Sodom to save, let alone to allow their merit to save the city.

 It is often the case that any conflict–such as the one between God and Sodom in our Torah reading, Vayera–has two sides with legitimate claims. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes, one side is simply unjust. How do we make that determination? I hope we can explore this question on Shabbat morning.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi David Wise