20 Shvat 5782 / Saturday, January 22, 2022 | Torah Reading: Va'era
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The Other Side to Sodom    

The Other Side to Sodom

If you feel like you’re living in an upside-down world, you’re right! The new moral code and justice system are antithetical to the values of our Father, Avraham.


When it comes to translating Hebrew into other languages, a lot gets lost in translation. Sodom tops the list. The word "sodomy" in English is associated with an abomination. As a result, we mainly relate Sodom to this lifestyle.  


We overlook how Sodom & Gomorrah enforced a “moral” code that proves to be the ultimate example of the cruel lack of concern for others' wellbeing. The complete absence of justice, and the prohibition against giving charity. 


Instead of comparing physical depravity to Sodom, we should also relate a legal system plagued with injustices as Sodom.  


Over the past 2 years, both New York and California enacted non-bail laws, enabling criminals to commit serious crimes without any jail time. Petty theft under $1,000 was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, so someone can empty the shelf of a Wal-Mart without any consequences.  


A friend of mine owns two pharmacies. He caught a shoplifter and made a citizen's arrest. The police came. They told him that they could arrest this man, but he would be back on the street in three hours.  


How is an honest man able to run a small business?  


Obviously, these thugs don’t fear Hashem. If they did, they would honor the universal commandment not to steal.  


Another commandment among the universal laws Hashem holds all mankind accountable for are fair and just courts. If thieves can rob families of their livelihood with no consequences, the courts, like those of Sodom, are institutionally corrupt.  


As thieves come into stores with bags, and fill them with the store’s merchandise and then walk away, the mystery as to why are shelves empty in America has been solved.  


The exact same thing happened in Sodom: The Talmud relates (Sanhedrin, 109a) "If a person had rows of bricks, the Sodomites came and each took one brick, saying, “I have taken only one.” If a person spread out garlic or onions to dry, each one came and took one, saying, “I have taken only one.”  


Sodom Hits Home 


It seems that Sodom is everywhere today. Here in Israel, our high court routinely rules in favor of evil.  


In Sodom, evil judges ruled like this: "There were four judges in Sodom: Shakrai, Shakrurai, Zayafi, and Matzlei Dina. If a man assaulted his neighbor’s wife and caused her to miscarry, they would say to the husband, Give her to him, so that he may make her pregnant for you. If one cut off the ear of his neighbor’s donkey, they would order, Give it to him until it grows back. If one wounded his neighbor, they would say to the victim, Pay him a fee for bleeding you" (Talmud, Sanhedrin 109b). 


When Arabs riot and attack Jews, they get a slap on the wrist. When they burn down our forests and destroy Jewish property, they don’t get punished at all.  


In Israel, a little Jewish girl was assaulted in her home while sleeping by a Bedouin. The Israeli court system did nothing to punish him, citing his "mental disability"... Similarly, many people heard about the horrific case in the USA where a young high school girl was sexually attacked in a women's bathroom because a man who identifies as woman was there and assaulted her. And when her father went to protest this practice before the school board, he was beaten and arrested by police.  


By definition, Jews do differ from Sodom in some important ways, with traits handed down to us spiritually from Abraham: charity, kindness and modesty (Gemara). 


Sodomites were cruel, "Plotit, a daughter of Lot, was married to one of the leading citizens of Sodom. One day she saw a pauper starving in the street, and her soul was saddened over him. What did she do? Every day, when she went to draw water from the well, she would take some of the food from her home in her pitcher and feed the pauper. But the people of Sodom wondered, “This pauper, how is he surviving?” Eventually the matter became known and she was taken out to be burned, and her cries rose to the divine throne (Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer, ch. 25). Hence, we see that while Sodom is commonly known for its physical depravity, it was equally evil when it came to just laws and treating people kindly. 


In America, Europe, and Israel it is considered noble to give to the poor. Both in Israel and the west, money given to charity is exempt from taxes. If you gave money that you already paid taxes on, the government will give back your money. This actively encourages people to give.  


Kindness is also not punished. There are no laws or cultural norms against taking people into your home for a meal or a place to stay (at least before Corona). 


The Torah portion of Vayera starts with the righteous Avraham inviting guests into his home. It continues with Hashem decreeing annihilation for the wicked of Sodom and Gomorrah.  


The fact that we all still promote some standards of our father Avraham can stand in our merit when Hashem looks at our generation.  


Hashem deeply despises when His Divine order is overturned by sexual abominations. These evil deeds corrupt the very air people breathe and society as a whole turns upside down.  


Injustice becomes the new justice and evil becomes the new good.  


Sodom is swallowing the world. The only consolation is that Redemption is imminent. But who will be redeemed? At every moment, the Almighty G-d gives us the choice to decide. 


* * * 

David Ben Horin lives in Afula with his wife and children. Since moving to Israel in 2002, David has discovered Torah, writing hi-tech, hiking, coding ReactJS Apps, and hearing stories about the Land of Israel from anyone excited to tell them. Check him out on Highway 60 or email him your favorite Israel story at:  david.ben.horin@spreadyourenthusiasm.com. 

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  2 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  Excellent teaching
Ben11/22/2021 8:59:28 PM
  no title
Editor11/12/2021 7:19:02 AM

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