And the men rose up from there, and gazed upon Sodom." (Gen. 18:16) Rabbi Elazar said: Come and see how G‑d shows goodness to all beings, but especially to those who follow His path. Even when He decides to judge the world, He arranges for anyone who loves Him to do a mitzvah before the world is punished.

This corresponds to what we have learned. When G‑d loves a person, He sends him a gift. And what is this gift? It is a poor man that he may merit
[doing a mitzva of charity] through him. Then [the poor one up High, the Shechinah] draws a thread of grace from the right side [of chesed] upon him. He spreads [the thread] upon his head and marks him, so that when judgment comes to the world, the Angel of Destruction will take care not to harm him. Because he raises his eyes and notices that mark, he avoids him. This is why G‑d arranges beforehand to make him meritorious.

Come and see! When G‑d planned to execute judgment on Sodom, He first gave Avraham the opportunity to make himself meritorious by sending him a gift
[of three wayfarers] to give him merit through them, in order to [become deserving] to save Lot, his nephew, from destruction. This is why it is written: "and G‑d remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow," (Gen. 19:29) and not, 'and G‑d remembered Lot' [for Lot wasn't saved in his own merit] but in Abraham's merit he was saved and "remembered" - He remembered the previous meritorious act that Abraham performed with the three angels.

In the same manner, when harsh judgment hangs over the world, G‑d remembers the charitable deeds that men performed. Every time a person performs a mitzvah it is noted above; even when there is harsh judgment on this person
[himself], G‑d remembers the good that he has done and has merited through other people. As it is written: "but charity delivers from death." (Proverbs 11:4) According to this, G‑d arranged in advance that opportunity for Abraham to do a mitzvah, so that by his merit Lot would be saved.

BeRahamim LeHayyim: Why did the Ari and Chida include this and what are they teaching us?

A mitzvah brings forth another mitzvah. Everything we do is recorded, seen, and heard, by supernal sources. We are specially blessed in Abraham's merit of leaving the presence of G‑d while in terrible pain, three days after his circumcision in the blistering desert heat of midday, to be hospitable to three Arab-looking strangers. And as for us, what have we done lately?

What does the above mean to YOU?! Why are you reading this passage NOW?!


Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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