This is not only a favorite of mine, but a favorite of some of you as well. I actually received some requests to share it once again, so here it is:
Random Musings Before Shabbat – Lech Lecha 5760
Things Are Seldom What They Seem
An Excerpt from the “Journal of Lot”
My uncle and I had traveled far. He was a strange man. Claimed one of the gds had spoken to him, told him to pick up and move everything – lock, stock and barrel – to some unknown land. But that’s my uncle. Rebellious son of an idol maker. Always trying to be different. Once tried to convince his dad that one of the big idols has smashed all the other idols in the shop. Truth is, uncle Avi had just accidentally knocked an idol off the workbench while playing around in the shop when he wasn’t supposed to. Tried to cover it up, but he didn’t get away with it. Got my great zayde Terach pretty mad!
I’ll tell you something about my uncle – I’ll whisper it to you so he can’t hear. Come closer so I can whisper it in your ear. OK. My uncle is a fool.
He had it pretty good in Haran. We all did. Not as nice as Ur, but I guess zayde had his reasons. So uncle Avi has a little too much beer, hears voices, and here we are, trudging southward through some pretty strange lands, and we wind up in Canaan. Interesting place, but not all that much to recommend it. But there is this beautiful river valley…but I’m getting ahead of myself. My uncle swears a g”d told him to make the trip… but I think he’s just trying to finish the journey that zayde Terach started out on but never quite finished because he ran out of money in Haran.
When we reach Canaan I figure we’ll stop for a while, but the wanderlust seems to have taken hold of my uncle, and we get pressing further south. Things weren’t too bad though, until food became scare since the rainy season hadn’t some when it should have. Guess someone forgot to sacrifice to their gods properly. Anyway, my uncle drags us all off the Egypt, of all places, among those stuck-up snobby Egyptians.
My uncle, he’s not too bright, I tell you, and he goes and does a really stupid thing. He tells my Aunt Sarai to pretend to be his sister, because the lousy coward is afraid they’ll try and kill him and steal his beautiful wife. I must admit, my Aunt quite a looker. Anyhoo, even those snobby Egyptians couldn’t resist my Aunt’s good looks, and they carted her off to the palace of the king. He was pretty smitten with her, and began to shower uncle Avi with presents – I suppose trying to convince him to give permission to add my uncle’s supposed “sister” to his harem. I didn’t do too badly myself while we were in the land of Egypt, and had increased my own flocks and wealth.
I don’t know how, but somehow that Egyptian Pharaoh fella figured out Aunt Sarai wasn’t who Uncle Avi said she was, so he sent us a-packin’! So back we go, through that lovely desert and on up to Canaan again.
We get to the same place we stopped on the way down. The house of some local gd called El. Seems my herdsman and Uncle Avi’s herdsman got to quarreling. Naturally, my brilliant uncle has a plan. He doesn’t want us to wind up at each others’ throats, being kinsmen and all, so he says how about you go your way and I’ll go mine. I thought, sure, why not. Which way do you wanna go – north or south? Then, my uncle, who I remind you is not too swift on the uptake makes me an offer I just can’t refuse. You choose, he says, and whichever way you go, I’ll go the opposite.
Well, my uncle was either, blind, dumb, stoned or stupid. Surely he could see what I saw. From atop the hill where we were, to the east, was this gorgeous lush river valley-beautiful green fields. We knew what was to the south-desert, and the north was pretty mountainous looking, and the west wasn’t all that appealing either. Can’t believing my incredible dumb luck, I quick say I’ll go east before my uncle gets a chance to change his mind. Poor uncle Avi-doesn’t even blink an eye. Fine, he says. You go east, I’ll go west. Keep in touch. Yeah, right. Someday Uncle Avi will come crawling to me asking for help. Guess I’ll give it to him because he has been pretty nice to me. But oy, what a sucker!
So my uncle and his people head off west, while my troupe heads towards this beautiful valley, where there appeared to be some cool looking cities. Hotcha. They look like real fun places. I like cities. I’m no country boy. My retainers can care for the flocks while I enjoy the pleasures of the cities.
There’s on thing though I can’t get out of my mind. As we parted, my uncle Avi walked away with the kind of, well, smirk, on his face, as if he knew something I didn’t. Maybe he did? Nah. I shrugged it off – he’s just loco.
Nobody ever said cities were a safe place. Seems there was a little bit of a local war going on, and I got caught in the middle of it. Believe it or not, my crazy Uncle comes and rescues me. Guess I should be grateful. I’ve kind of lost track of my Aunt and Uncle since then. They haven’t written much. Me and the Missus settled in at Sodom. It was a pretty nice place at first, and nearby was a sister city, Gomorrah, which had an even nicer shuk than Sodom. On weekends, we sometimes hiked it over to shop there – the sales tax was a little lower.
Then things began to change. Slowly. These new people started moving in, and all of sudden, things start going to pot. First the prostitutes come out of the Temples and start doing business on the street. Next thing you know, people are having wild parties with drinking and all sorts of disgusting perversions. I mean, I like a good time as well as the next guy, but this stuff was too much. Men and women doing it in the street. And men with men and women with women, too. Gambling, too. Loud music. Drugs. Beer. Wine. It’s starting to get real scary around here. I am starting to have this real bad feeling.
Whoops, gotta go. There’s a couple of strangers that I met at the city gate today-nice looking fellas, and I invited them home for dinner. I wouldn’t take no for an answer. My parents and my aunt and uncle did teach me good manners. That’s for sure. After we finished dinner I thought I do some journaling, but now there’s a bunch of people knocking at the door. Guess I’ll go see what the hubbub is about.
To be continued…
© 1999, 2010 by Adrian A. Durlester