Rabbi Milevsky's Thought of the Week: Vayeira - 5777
The twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are the symbol of wickedness, and synonymous with extreme immorality. Rabbinic sources share with us stories about their intolerance and cruelty towards the foreigner. The rabbis note that any resident of these cities who attempted to give basic sustenance to a poor person was killed. Yet, our patriarch Abraham prayed to the Almighty for their welfare.
The Talmud shares with us that in the neighborhood of Rabbi Meir there were bandits, who caused him a great deal of pain. Rabbi Meir prayed that they should die. His wife Beruria said to him: "Why are you praying in such a way? The proper way to deal with the situation is to pray that they should repent, and there will be no more wickedness". He did indeed pray for them, and they repented.
What we learn from Abraham, and years later from Beruria, is to separate people from actions. Like the Almighty, who tells us in the book of Ezekiel "I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live" we to should not desire the wicked to perish but rather that they change their ways.