Divrei Torah

PARSHAS VAYEIRA 5779

In this week’s Parsha we read about the destruction of Sodom. A significant portion of last week’s Parsha dealt with Sodom and this week’s Parsha devoted quite a bit of space to Sodom. What major relevance does it have to the development of the Jewish people and the Land of Israel?

Perhaps, the Torah is teaching us this idea of quality over quantity. Last week the Torah described the people of Sodom as “wicked and sinners.” Rashi explains this double expression that the people of Sodom had no standards of morality and were corrupt in monetary matters. Yet, Avraham davens to G-d that He should spare Sodom and its neighboring evil cities. Avraham asked G-d to spare the city if their were 50 righteous people. There weren’t 50 so he asked G-d for 45, then 40. Finally, Avraham asked G-d to spare Sodom on account of 10 righteous people. Since there weren’t even 10 righteous people, the fate of Sodom was sealed. There were thousands of people, but, not 10 good people. There was quantity but no quality.

G-d provides for an entire area, because of a few good people. The Gemara in Brachos states: Rabbi Dosa said, “the entire world is sustained because of my son, Chanina.” Rabbi Chanina Ben Dosa  had so much merit, that the entire world existed on his account.

Another example: The Gemara in Gittin tells us that Rabbi Tzadok fasted for 40 years, praying to G-d that the Bais Hamikdosh would not be destroyed. At the time of the destruction of the 2nd Bais Hamikdosh, Vespasian granted Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakkai three requests. One of those requests was to provide medical assistance to nurse Rabbi Tzadok back to health. Vespasian probably thought that Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakkai wasted his request. However, Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakkai knew the power of a righteous person, even though it was not apparent to most people. In order to survive, the Jewish nation needs righteous people.

A city / metropolitan area / country could be a leader in the financial world, the medical world, or the entertainment world. But, if it is a Sodom – quantity but no quality – immoral, dishonest and violent - the Torah is teaching us that it won’t last.

The Tanach provides us with numerous examples of this idea: the generation of the Flood . . . Ninveh during the time of Jonah . . . these are some examples of quantity without quality. The Tanach doesn’t need space fillers. If something is written in the Tanach, it is there because it is relevant to us. We must learn the lessons of the Tanach and apply them to our lives. In that way we will learn what is important and be able to make the world a better place for all of us.