Parshat Vayera: Our Moral Duties

November 10, 2022
BBYO Weekly Parsha

AZA & BBG

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This week’s Parsha, Parshat Vayera, when literally translated to English, means “and he appeared”. This Parsha is a very loaded one. It contains the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the visitation of Avraham and Sarah by the angels, the birth of Isaac, and even the binding of Isaac. An interesting portion of it, in my view, is Sodom and Gomorrah. G-d decided to unleash destruction on these cities, much to Avraham’s dismay. He pleaded with G-d to spare them. G-d agreed, so long as he could find good people. Except for his nephew, Lot, Avraham could not find a single other good person. This led to G-d destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. What were their sins? Greed, corruption, adultery, and countless other sins. Lot can be described as a good and righteous man, but he was far from a moral example. He offered up his daughters to an angry mob, and his wife was consumed by greed, leading to her death. Lot went on to be punished, living his life alone in a cave with his daughters. Did Lot potentially fail? I believe so.

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Judaism focuses a lot on the value of Tikkun Olam, or making the world a better place. With this value in mind, Lot failed. He may have been a flawed man, but he remained a moral man. His entire surroundings, though, were far from it. Sure, he survived the destruction, but did he really get a good ending? His entire livelihood was destroyed, his wife turned to salt, and he spent the rest of his life miserable in a cave, ultimately being used and abused by his own daughters. This teaches us that it is not enough to be moral ourselves. It’s great that one follows the Mitzvot and remains a good person, but it has no value if they do not apply it to the world around them. If Lot had used his morals to make at least two people good, and those two passed that forward, and the cycle continued, the entire city would be saved. Lot’s failures to extend his morals beyond himself prevented even one more good person from existing in his community. We may all be moral, and that is fantastic. All of our morality, however, is near useless if we do not use it to improve the world and help other people. Our communities are only as strong as our weakest links. If people in our society remain immoral and bad, it reflects on our society. It is our duty to use the morals and goodness in our hearts to teach others, help others, and spread a positive message, because at the end of the day, if we all pitch in and help our communities become better, finding 50 good people won’t be so hard.

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Shabbat Shalom,

Miami Regional S’gan, Luiz Gandelman

Read commentary on this week's Parsha from BBYO teens around the world.

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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