Darfut (VaYera)

In this week’s Torah portion, our hero Abraham has a conversation with God about a couple of cities that God has slated for destruction. Sodom and Gomorrah, according to Jewish tradition, were greedy, cruel cities where any kindness to strangers was punishable by death. (Notice that the crime is NOT homosexuality.)

Nevertheless, Abraham challenged God to find 50 — 45 — 40 — 30 — 20 — even 10 people who did justice instead of evil. God agreed to try. Apparently there weren’t even 10; only Abraham’s nephew Lot and family were warned to flee, and in the end Lot and his two unmarried daughters escaped.

What does Avraham’s futile conversation teach us? That sometimes we need to stand up and say something, even if we don’t accomplish our goal of saving the majority. Sometimes it is imperative not to be silent. So it is with Darfur. Stand up and say something. We may not be able to end the genocide and starvation, but we may not sit idly by and be silent. As God says, musing on whether or not to give Avraham prior notice of the intent to destroy the cities: “I have known him, so that he will command his children and his household after him, and they will keep God’s way, doing right behavior and justice.” That’s our job still.