In Praise of Protest

Rabbi Shai Held

Parashat VaYera

It is, by all accounts, one of the most remarkable stories in the Torah. Appalled by the corruption and lawlessness of Sodom and Gomorrah, God is moved to respond. But before taking action, God makes a choice to consult with Abraham. Alarmed at the prospect of God acting unjustly, Abraham protests, demanding to know whether God will “sweep away the innocent along with the guilty.” There is much that is striking, even captivating about this story. And yet familiar as the story is, a close reading suggests that it is at once subtler and more radical than is conventionally assumed. (5775)