My daughter is covered in a rash. Head to toe. She is miserable. We are miserable. And she itches, terribly and nonstop. And try as we may, no matter how we beg her not to scratch, she simply can’t stop herself. She isn’t even aware she is doing it. Both when awake and throughout her sleep, all she does is scratch.

I can somewhat relate, as I am one who gets eaten alive by mosquitoes. And yes, I know, I must just have the sweetest blood. Of all compliments, I could live without this one. And when the itching begins, one needs superhuman strength to leave those bites alone. And let’s be honest, the feeling accompanied by a real, good, thorough scratch is simply amazing. For about five seconds. And then it pays you back with a wrath unparalleled.

We scratch because it feels good. At least in the momentThese rashes or bites are not a part of us. They shouldn’t be there. They are foreign to who we are, and that is why we react to their poisons. And the more we scratch, the more we spread the poison around, the more we itch and the longer it lasts.

But we scratch because it feels good. At least in the moment. And it is a relief. But the pain always returns, for the itch comes back begging for more, and the cycle continues. And ultimately, there is only one thing that will make it go away, and that is not to touch, not to scratch, not to engage.

We all have the things we know we should stay away from. They are attractive, interesting and inviting, but get too close and they will bite. And once that poison is released, it spreads so easily.

In this week’s Torah portion of Vayeira, we also learn of a poison in the form of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham is foretold of their destruction, and can’t understand how cities could be annihilated; so he pleads, he argues, for them to be spared. He asks G‑d if He would save the cities in the merit of fifty righteous, but Abraham can’t find that many. Eventually he realizes that he can’t even find ten, so he must accept that the cities need to be destroyed.

There are certain things that we are simply allergic toWe too so badly want to find the good, find the positive. But there are certain things that we are simply allergic to . . . all of us. Drugs, abuse, violence, infidelity . . . are poison, even if we do not immediately see the breakout of the rash. And then there are the things we are allergic to, even if others are not. And if for me it is a poison, I better stay away, even if it doesn’t affect you at all.

If we are lucky, we will discover our poisons without direct exposure. Other times, it is only when the itching begins that we realize we have a problem. The question then is not why we are having a reaction, but what are we going to do about it. And that is our test. Can we remember that some itches should not be scratched?