Why did Avraham and Lot Separate - Lech Lecha
In our Parasha the main figure is Avraham Avinu, and his adventures fill our parasha with details and values. We are taught in depth about him since he is the founder of Am Israel. The whole Hebrew story has developed based on his great values and character. Teaching the world the fundamentals of faith was the main contribution Avraham made to the world, and it also separated him from others.
The Midrash says that Avraham was named Avraham HaIvri because he was standing on a different side than the entire world: ‘Avraham omed b’ever echad v’kol haolam kulo b’ever acher’. But the fact is that Avraham did have support from two people: Sara-his wife and Lot, his nephew. As mentioned in Parashat Noach, these two were part of Avraham’s mission. Sara as his wife is even mentioned as the co-leader of the mission, and Lot, his nephew, was an integral part of it. This insight raises the question: what ruined that partnership in the end?
The Midrash says that the dispute between Lot’s and Avraham’s shepherds was about how hard they should work to prevent their sheep from eating from other fields. Yet, the question still stands: why did the dispute only arise now? Till now Lot and Avraham walked hand in hand, so what happened that suddenly ruined that harmony.
Nechama Leibovitch, the known scholar, points to a very interesting hint found in the psukim. If we compare two psukim we would find something fascinating. When the Torah mentions who came with Avraham to Eretz Yisrael, the order is: Avraham, Sara, Lot and their belongings. But, when the Torah mentions who came with Avraham to Eretz Yisrael from Egypt, the order is: Avraham, Sara and their belongings and only after that Lot is mentioned. Through that, it seems that we should ‘blame’ the adventure in Egypt, or more precisely the conclusion of that adventure.
When Avraham and Lot left Egypt they became very wealthy but the difference was how it affected them. While Avraham Avinu maintained his spiritual way of life, Lot was overwhelmed by his new statues. Suddenly, he found it hard to live in the same spiritual way. His priorities were changed from trying to be moral and idealistic, to being materialistic and opportunistic.
This new status gets its final stamp by the final scene between the two. When Avraham gives Lot the opportunity to pick his own land, the Torah describes Lot’s thoughts and the Torah gives us the reason Lot picked Sdom as his land. The Torah says that he chose Sdom because it reminded him of Egypt, and in a very specific way. Lot was seeking prosperity that isn’t connected to Hashem, and Sdom like Egypt symbolizes that.
In Chumash Devarim, the Torah compares Egypt to Eretz Yisrael. In Egypt the financial status is stable, it has plenty of water and therefore, prosperity. But in Eretz Yisrael, the financial situation is linked to the spiritual situation. Only if Am Israel behaves properly will we get rain and prosperity.
Lot decided to get out of that demanding way of life, and therefore we should understand what was Avraham Avinu’s way of life. Avraham teaches us that we should, and can, live our life connecting our spirit to prosperity.