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Parashat Va’yerah – Living WITH the past, not IN the past.


Very often, we find powerful gems of wisdom hidden in the seemingly mundane conversations in the Torah.

When Lot is bidden to flee the city of Sodom, before the impending destruction, the angel instructs him, “Escape with your life, do not look behind you!”

Lot, now fleeing for his life, is losing everything he has worked his entire life to accomplish: family members, wealth, status, and much else. He must have felt that he had made a very profound mistake when he left his uncle, Abraham, years before, and decided to move to Sodom and assimilate into their corrupt society.

We could understand that under these circumstances he could fall into depression, giving up on his future life while wallowing in the misery of his past mistakes, a common phenomenon throughout society.

Indeed, we can now understand his temptation to drown his sorrows in wine and alcohol night after night, becoming so intoxicated that he could numb and obliterate his experience of the present moment. Perhaps that is why liquor stores were deemed vital services and stayed open during the pandemic and whose sales rocketed up!

This then is the meaning of the angel’s instruction, while learning from the past is an important part of self-improvement if you wish to salvage your life after such a monumental failure, concentrate your thoughts on the present and future.

Doing something about today and tomorrow is acting in a positive way, which can be beneficial, but this may be impossible if one is preoccupied and consumed with trying to make yesterday better, an impossible task.

Sadly, we do not hear anything more about Lot’s life, a clear indication that he did not heed that sage advice.

~ Rabbi Shaul