Home
In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 18, 2005 / 16 Mar-Cheshvan, 5766

Rethinking Sodom

By Rabbi Berel Wein


Individuality and ‘doin' your own thing’ through a biblical perspective


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Our father Abraham pleads for the forgiveness and survival of Sodom. He strikes the best "bargain" he apparently can with G-d, so to speak. If there are ten righteous people in Sodom then the city will be spared. There is a sizable population living in Sodom so Abraham is somehow confident that he has saved the city once the number of necessary righteous inhabitants has been reduced to ten. This is perhaps the reason that Abraham does not "bargain" for a number lower than ten. But Abraham is sadly disappointed. Sodom does not contain even ten righteous people and the avenging angels do their work of retribution and destruction.


Printer Friendly Version

Email this article

My teachers often pointed out to my colleagues and me during our yeshiva (rabbinical school) years that Sodom was not destroyed because of its tens of thousands of evildoers. It was destroyed because it lacked ten good people.


Once again, here in the story of Sodom, the Torah reiterates to us the value of an individual, of a good person, of a good deed performed for its own sake, how in the eyes of Heaven goodness always trumps evil. Therefore, Judaism places great responsibility upon the individual and his or her personal behavior.


Maimonides makes this point when he states that before doing an act in life one should always consider that the whole world is evenly balanced at that moment between good and evil, salvation and destruction. The act about to be performed if it is one of goodness can save the entire world. And if it is wrong and evil, selfish and uncaring, it can doom all of humankind.


A second lesson inherent in the story of Sodom is that even the most righteous person in the world — our father Abraham — cannot save other people simply with his blessings and entreaties. People, communities, nations, have to save themselves. Abraham can guide and teach, serve as an example and role model, influence and lead, but in the last analysis only Sodom can save Sodom, only Lot can save Lot. There is a great reliance in the religious and general world upon others to somehow pull us through. People are willing to invest a great deal of time, effort and money to obtain the blessings of a righteous person to solve their problems. The same effort invested in their own personal attempts to improve themselves in their daily behavior would perhaps produce greater and more beneficial results than blessings from others, no matter how great those others are.


The rabbis of the Talmud when asked for blessings often asked the supplicant: "What good deed have you done in your lifetime?" A blessing can have no good effect if the person receiving it has no personal merit. The Talmud stated the great rule in life: "Your behavior will bring you closer [to G-d and humans] and in the alternative your behavior will distance you from them."


Abraham is powerless to save Sodom without the cooperation of the inhabitants of Sodom. This is truly the bitter and telling lesson of this week's parsha (Torah portion). It is one that should be studied and internalized by us all.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes inspiring articles. Sign up for our daily update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Rabbi Berel Wein --- Jewish historian, author and international lecturer offers a complete selection of CDs, audio tapes, video tapes, DVDs, and books on Jewish history at www.rabbiwein.com Comment by clicking here.


© 2005, Rabbi Berel Wein