Lech Lecha: Choosing Real Estate

Of neighborhoods, benevolence is the most beautiful. How can the man be considered wise who when he had the choice does not settle in benevolence. — Confucius 

Upon Abraham’s and his nephew Lot’s return to the land of Canaan from their stint in Egypt, laden with wealth, their respective shepherds start to fight. Abraham (still called Abram at this stage) suggests they put some distance between themselves. Lot sees the area of Sodom. It is a lush and beautiful land (before God destroyed it), watered by the fresh waters of the Jordan River and compared to the highly fertile land of the Nile Delta. Lot chooses to move to the area of Sodom. He takes all his wealth and invests in the area, building for himself a home, raising a family, and marrying off some of his daughters to local Sodomite men.

The Bechor Shor on Genesis 13:10 finds in this account a critique of Lot. Like any savvy businessman, Lot checks out the prospect before he invests. He sees a rich, fertile, productive land. He sees wealth and opulence. From a purely superficial, material, financial perspective, it was likely the best neighborhood in the area. However, the Bechor Shor states, Lot didn’t check out the neighbors. He didn’t bother to determine the character, the kindness, the benevolence of his fellow residents of Sodom. He saw nice fields and nice houses and that was enough for him.

The fate of Sodom is well known. God found the Sodomites to be degenerate, abhorrent, evil. Lot himself was not nearly as bad. God sends angels to save Lot and to destroy Sodom with fire and brimstone. Lot is saved, but literally with just the clothing on his back. He went to Sodom because of wealth and left it a pauper.

The Bechor Shor warns that when seeking a place to live, definitely check out the land and the physical conditions, but don’t forget to check out the neighbors.

May we be good neighbors, as well as be blessed with having good neighbors.

Shabbat Shalom,

Ben-Tzion

Dedication

To the US elections and a peaceful aftermath.

About the Author
Ben-Tzion Spitz is the former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay and a candidate for the Knesset for the Zehut party. He is the author of three books of Biblical Fiction and hundreds of articles and stories dealing with biblical themes. Ben-Tzion is a graduate of Yeshiva University and received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.
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