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    Looking back – Lech L’cha

    The pillar known as "Lot's wife", near the Dead Sea

    People tend to remember the story of Lot’s wife but can’t tell you much about Lot himself. Nonetheless one and the same lesson may be derived from both of them.

    Mrs Lot is famous because she looked back and got caught in a salty hurricane which turned her into a pillar of salt.

    This part of the story is generally taken as stressing that one should never try to go back to the past.

    From her husband we can also derive a lesson that has to do with looking back.

    Before addressing that theme let us first ask what the name Lot means. It probably indicates a covering or veil, as in Isaiah 25:7.

    Lot was Abraham’s nephew. He made the mistake of settling in a wicked place, we presume because it was attractive materially.

    Lot had been well brought up and in his youth had imbibed the principles of consideration for others. So even in Sodom he remembered to be hospitable to strangers, in contrast to the local mores which regarded visitors as a nuisance.

    He was even prepared to risk his and his family’s life for the sake of kindness to outsiders, not an easy thing in those circumstances.

    This was a blast from the past. His instinct was to look back to the principles upon which he had been brought up.

    Both Lot and his wife looked back and did so at great risk. Lot survived; Mrs Lot succumbed.

    The rest of the story does not redound to Lot’s credit, but one crucial moment sings his praise.

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