Selfishness Brought the Destruction of Sdom

In Parshat Vayera we read about God’s destruction of the city of Sdom.


What was so terrible about Sdom that it had to be utterly destroyed and still remains a wasteland today?


According to the prophet Yechezkel (Yechezkel 16:49): “Behold this was the sin of Sdom, your sister: She and her daughters had pride, fullness of bread and peaceful serenity, but she did not strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”


The Midrash Pirkei DeRebbi Eliezer states: “They issued a proclamation in Sdom saying: Everyone who strengthens the hand of the poor and needy with a loaf of bread shall be burnt by fire. Plotit, a daughter of Lot was married to one of the great men of Sdom. She saw a very poor man in the street and she felt bad for him. What did she do? Every day when she went out to draw water she put in her pitcher all kinds of provisions from her house and she sustained the poor man. The men of Sdom said: How does this poor man live? When they ascertained the facts they brought Plotit forth to be burnt by fire. She cried out: Sovereign of all worlds! Maintain my right and my cause at the hands of the men of Sdom! And her cry ascended before the throne of glory. In that hour God said: I will go down and see whether they have in fact done what she is crying about. If it turns out to be true then I will overthrow the city.”


Nechama Leibowitz points out: “Their wickedness was the law of the land and whoever violated the law and performed a good deed prompted by his own instincts of pity was condemned to be burnt at the stake. There was no remedy for such a society but total destruction.”


We must learn a lesson from what happened to the selfish people in Sdom and make every effort to make laws that protect the poor and the needy to ensure that nobody in the Land of Israel goes hungry.