Parshat Vayeira 5783: Sodom and Amora vs Woke’ism and Social Equity, or Who’s Money is it Really?

Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua, Vayeira is sponsored by Dr. David and Tamar Kallus and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh who dedicate this vort Lilui Nishmas the Yahrtzeit of HaRav Chaim Zev Malinowitz, z”l To the Kallus family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

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Moshe Burt
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Parshat Vayeira 5783: Sodom and Amora vs Woke’ism and Social Equity, or Who’s Money is it Really?

by Moshe Burt

This author begins this vort on Parshat Vayeira with an excerpt from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s Parsha Summary in his sefer “Unlocking The Torah Text,” Sefer Breish’t (page 77):

Hashem decides to inform Avraham of His decision to destroy the evil cities of Sodom and Amora…

Two of the three angels [molochim] arrive at the gates of Sodom where they are greeted by Lot, who offers them hospitality. After being threatened by the residents of the city, the molochim warn Lot to leave with his family in order to escape the coming cataclysm. Lot and his family escape. Lot’s wife, however, disobeys Hashem’s command not to look back and turns into a pillar of salt.

As Hashem ponders whether to reveal to, or conceal from, Avraham the fate of Sodom, Torah records:

“So Hashem said, ‘Because of the outcry of Sodom and Amora has become great, and because their sin has been very grave, I will descend and see: If they act in accordance with its outcry — then destruction! And if not, I will know.’ The men [the molochim] turned from there and went to Sodom, while Avraham was still standing before Hashem.” (Sefer Breish’t. Perek 18, posukm 20-22 as rendered to English in the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash)

The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash now provides a background regarding the evil and perversion of Sodom (Sefer Breish’t, page 81):

The cruelties of Sodom have become… the epitome of selfishness, callousness and depravity, but the root of their evil was greed. Sodom was a rich and fertile region and, as such it was a magnet for people seeking to make their fortune, as it was for Lot. But the Sodomites wanted to maintain their own prosperity and not be encumbered by a flood of poor immigrants. The wealthy and well-connected Lots of the world were welcome in Sodom, because they would give more to the economy than they would take. To discourage undesirable newcomers, the Sodomites institutionalized state cruelty so that it became a crime to feed a starving person or offer alms to a beggar. Even the sexual perversion for which Sodom was notorious was employed to keep visitors away. According to one opinion of the Sages, this cruelty stemmed from an attitude of “What is mine is mine and what is yours is yours.” (Artscroll Stone Chumash citing Pirkei Avos 5:10) Such selfishness descends to cruelty and perversion — and a metropolis that elevates such behavior to a legitimate way of life forfeits its right to exist.

Regarding that last Artscroll Stone Chumash citing from Pirkei Avos, this author understands that in Sodom, it would seem that what was theirs was theirs and what was yours was theirs. The Midrash Says, by Rabbi Moshe Weissman notes (Midrash Says, Sefer Breish’t, page 164):

In the selfish fear that their wealth might be diminished, they allowed no strangers into their country. They guarded their possessions so jealously that all trees growing on public property were pruned to remove their fruit so that the birds should have no benefit from them.

The Sodomite constitution included the following laws:

1/ Any stranger found in the vicinity may be robbed of his money and maltreated.
2/ It is the duty of a Sodomite judge to insure that every wayfarer leaves Sodom penniless.
3 Anyone handing food to a pauper or stranger will be put to death.
4/ Anyone who invites strangers to a wedding will be punished by having all clothes removed from his body.

Midrash Says then goes on to recount the experiences of Avraham’s servant, Eliezer, when he happened to pass through Sodom (pages 164-165 as paraphrased by this author).

While walking in the street, Eliezer was attacked and beaten bloody by a band of Sodomites. He went to the judge demanding justice. The judge ruled that Eliezer owed money to the attacker who bloodied him. Upon hearing this, Eliezer picked up a stick and beat the judge until the judge bled. Then Eliezer said to the judge, “Now you owe me money because I let your blood. Instead of paying it to me, you can give it straight to the other fellow.”

Then there was episode with the guest beds when the Sodomites invited Eliezer to avail himself of their “hospitality” overnight. Eliezer declined their offer, but later it was explained that the Sodomites had special beds for guests and would come at night with knives while the guests were asleep. If the guest’s height exceeded the length of the bed, they cut off his feet. If he was shorter than then the bed, they stretched his limbs.

Eliezer had not eaten all day, since the Sodomites refused even to sell him food for money. There was a wedding that day and Eliezer kind of crashed the affair and sat down at the end of the table. Above, it was noted that the Sodomite “constitution” stated that anyone who invited strangers to a wedding would be stripped of their clothes. People noticed Eliezer and asked who invited him. Eliezer pointed to his neighbor who made a hasty retreat from the scene fearing he’d lose all of his clothes. Eliezer changed his seat several times as the same scenario played out, each time the new neighbor would split the scene, fearing losing his clothing. Meantime, Eliezer sat comfortably and consumed his meal.

We could go on and on citing the misadventures which took place due to Sodomites’ distorted sense of “morality” which brings us to our days and the creeping worldwide woke’ism, the “great reset” and “social equity” — seemingly an attempted power-grab by world’s so-called “elite.”

Recently, this author heard a story reflecting the emergence of individual accountability of how they spend their money, either to a government directly, or by way of financial institutions, which opens a whole pandora’s box of woke’ism, the great reset and social equity which seem to this author to be seeping into Israel’s governance and financial institutions influenced by the Western world.

Without telling over the story or the situation surrounding it, the point of the story was: Who’s money is it, Really? We learn through Torah, through spirituality, from the Big Inning, oops meaning the Beginning, from Breish’t, Perek 1, posuk 1, that everything comes from Hashem, from creation of heaven and earth, and all that inhabits the universe, including whatever currency is used to exchange for food, goods and services, all, as the late great radio commentator Rush Limbaugh would say, “on Loan from G’d.” You get the picture, right? Hashem disburses money as he sees fit and it is up to the recipient to use the funds in ways befitting Hashem.

What is meant by the above terms? Well, to this author, it is government, educational institutions, large and giant financial institutions — the avodah zora’s of our time, attempting to replace religion and telling man what he is to think, who he is to revere, how he must live, without deviation, no questioning allowed — totalitarianism. In short, these terms mark world elitist abandonment of Hashem.

And the methods are myriad: from destruction of monuments commemorating any nation’s history because it doesn’t fit the elitist agenda, to historical revisionism, to “climate change” and electronic cars, the end of cattle and flatulation, reparations based on race, normalization of same-genderism, abortion from early to late-term to even post-birth, technology which developed mobile phones and digital currency with the resultant governmental tyrannical abuse of the technology leading to the all-knowing Big Brother watching and deciding everyone’s lives and more, as the elite attempt to eradicate man’s freedom of choice and thought which amount to governments and major institutions attempting to subvert the will of Hashem.

In a way, there are aspects of this woke’ism, great reset and social equity which equate with the Migdal Bavel mindset of man. But these words also betray a selfishness, callousness, depravity, greed, cruelty and perversion which seem the likes of a Sodom and Amora.

Rabbi Shmuel Goldin writes, in concluding a discussion regarding Hashem’s revealing to Avraham His intent to destroy Sodom and Amora (“Unlocking The Torah Text,” Sefer Breish’t, page 83):

In the aftermath of Avraham’s pleadings, he learns the tragic truth: there are not even ten righteous individuals within the cities of Sodom and Amora. There is noone to affect the destiny of these doomed cities.

Are there any governmental, political, educational or industrial or financial institutions today worthy, as Avraham Avinu would fervently pray? Here in Israel, our fervent tefillot are that the righteous, the pintele yid within us comes to the fore to bring change that will lead to the coming of Moshiach bimhayrah b’yamainu.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them, that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes and the oft-destroyed Yeshiva buildings in Homesh be rebuilt, all at total government expense; due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now in his second year at home in Eretz Yisrael and embarking on a new chapter in his life. May Esther Yocheved bat Yechiel Avraham have an aliyah in Shemayim and may her spirit and memory continue to lift Jonathan to at least 120 years. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of eight years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese corona virus pandemic and all like viruses. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.