Vayera – On compassion

First of all define the term: compassion… It is feeling sorry for someone else’s suffering or pain which leads to the urge to help out.

14 Lot went out to talk to his sons-in-law who had taken his daughters; he said get up, leave this place because YHWH will destroy this city. They thought he was a fool. 15 As dawn rose, the messengers went out to Lot saying: get up and take your wife and your two daughters that are here, so you won’t be destroyed with the sins of the city. 16 He hesitated, the people held his hand and his wife’s hand and the hand of both of his daughters, due to YHWH’s compassion for him, they took him and placed him outside of the city.

Genesis 19

Another example:

6 She opened it and saw the child and the boy was crying; she had compassion for him; she said he’s from the children of the Hebrews.

Exodus 2

That is what Pharaoh’s daughter did when she saw a baby floating down the Nile River. She knew that a male Israelite child had to be killed but she ignored the edict her father had made and saved Moshe. Evil may or may not triumph, but simple acts of compassion, are all too rare.

16 He hesitated, the people held his hand and his wife’s hand and the hand of both of his daughters, due to YHWH’s compassion for him, they took him and placed him outside of the city.

Genesis 19

Darkness had utterly filled the hearts of his neighbors that they couldn’t understand the difference between good and evil. Did Lot actually feel God’s compassion as he fled the destruction?

Can “God’s compassion” be felt?

It might be like a lucky day, where nothing seems to go wrong. It might be a day full of sunshine and good health surrounded by dear friends taking a day off together.

Is compassion meted out only to the deserving?

What about Lot’s wife? Did she have to end up as a pillar of salt after having been rescued from Sodom? So if exalted dictates are ignored, then compassion cannot be manifest. Can the good, hard working and moral majority not hope for compassion?

Must we all be forced to wait in vain for an end to the trials we face?

According to the Bible, there is only one official manifestation of compassion for humanity: the rainbow.

It might not be the sign that the world will survive and not be destroyed by a divine deluge, but it can be a symbol of looking above ourselves and gazing at a natural phenomenon. Rainbows, like compassion, cannot be grasped physically but they are clearly apparent when sighted. Rainbows are fleeting while compassion should be a more lasting emotion. Hopefully there will always be more compassion in the world than rainbows.

12 My rainbow, I set in the cloud; it is the sign of my BRIT, between me and the world…

Genesis 12

Midrash Harabah and English translations by Rabbi Gail Shuster-Bouskila ©2021

Mt. Sodom
Mt. Sodom

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/did-archaeologists-discover-the-biblical-city-of-sodom_n_561d3810e4b028dd7ea544c5