Sunday, 10 November 2019

Vayeira Destroy What Needs To Be Destroyed

Guest Post:
Cantor Richard Wolberg
Adapted from an article by Rabbi Noson Weisz.
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In the conversation between God and Abraham where God informs Abraham that he is about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham challenged God's justice and demanded Divine mercy with a ferocity that leaves the reader astonished at his sheer audacity. Abraham then proceeds to demand mercy in terms that are almost as insistent, declaring, "Behold now, I desired to speak to my Lord although I am but dust and ashes. What if the fifty righteous people should lack five? Would You destroy the entire city because of the five?" [Gen. 18: 27-28]
How does such a ringing challenge emerge from the mouth of a person who regards himself as no more than a pile of dust and ashes?
To appreciate the utter impossibility of this conversation, remember that we are not Abraham. For us, God exists only in the abstract: He is a being we have never personally met and in whose existence we only vaguely believe. But to Abraham, God was a Being he knew and spoke to. Imagine that the Almighty Himself came to inform you about His decision to destroy Sodom and Gomorra on account of the great evil that He discovered there. Would you presume to challenge His judgment, and with such force?
The point here is that God came to inform him about His decision to destroy Sodom. If the proposed destruction was none of his business, God didn't have to tell him about it in advance. So the fact that God told Abraham, then that was Abraham's cue to respond.

Whereas your or I might have said to God: "Great! Destroy those evil people. Who needs them? All they are is trouble." Abraham was on a much higher level, so he asked for God's mercy, indicating a tremendous sensitivity to all of God's creatures. In His great wisdom, however, the Almighty did what needed to be done.

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