Abraham, Lot and the Pig

Gensis 13,14, 19
2 Peter 2.4-11

For our instruction, the Torah often juxtaposes two men in similar situations and leaves it to us to draw the appropriate conclusions. In both this and last week's Torah portions, we see the contrast between Abraham and Lot.

We all know the story; when Abram left Haran, he took his nephew, Lot with him. After going down to Egypt, both Abram and Lot emerged as very wealthy men; so much so that their servants were unable peaceably to coexist. One would think that a younger man who had prospered by tagging along with his uncle would 'explain' to his servants that they were not to make any trouble with his uncle's people, but that was not the case.

The two men decided to separate rather than deal with continued strife. Interestingly, it was Abram who initiated the separation rather than Lot. Why? And why did Lot not protest and try and make peace?

Considering Lot first, we see several indicators of his character. First, when invited by his uncle to leave and to choose which way he would go, he unhesitatingly left and chose what he thought was the best land. Second, when Abram defeated the four kings, there is no record of Lot thanking him for the rescue. Third, when the angels come to destroy Sodom, we find that Lot is a prominant man in that city.

We know from 2 Peter that Lot was personally righteous. That is he was not a sodomite and did not approve of the sinful practices of the inhabitants of Sodom. Yet he lived among them and had done so for long enough that he had a seat in the gates. From this and his choices with respect to his uncle, we can infer that the things of the world - wealth, status, influence - were important to him.

This gives us a clue as to why Abram asked Lot to separate from his household. Abram, although a wealthy man himself, did not invest primary importance to the things of this world. So we have two men traveling together, both personally righteous, both wealthy, both from the same family - the midrash says that they looked very much alike - yet very different on the inside. We can infer that Abram asked Lot to leave to prevent confusion among people who would visit him. In other words, Abram wanted there to be no confusion in his message.

One of the reasons that the pig is the 'poster child' for unclean animals is that it looks clean on the surface - it has cloven hooves. Only extended observation shows that it does not chew the cud. We have a similar situation with Abram and Lot. Both look the same on the surface. Only extended observation reveals that Abram was a man of God and Lot a man of the world.

(Loosely based on Breaking the Idols at Aish.com)