A prolonged bout with a cold, now turned into bronchitis, has been draining my energy and alertness, so, with apologies, I offer this recycled musing from 1999.
Random Musings Before Shabbat – Vayera 5760- From the “Journal of Lot” – Part II
It has been many, many days since I have been able to record my thoughts. I’m not even sure I want to continue because about all I would have to say is “life really sucks.” But I guess, deep inside, I don’t really believe that. I’m not the brash young man I used to be, but I still think I’m a good man. Not perfect, G”d knows, but good.
Anyway, you just wouldn’t believe all that has happened since I last wrote in this journal. Remember those visitors I told you about? Seems they were more than ordinary visitors. Turns out they had just come from visiting uncle Avi and aunt Sara. Said they had brought my uncle a message from this one G”d he’s been all in a dither about since we left Haran. Get this…they told him aunt Sara would have a baby. Now there’s a laugh. In fact, I can just hear my aunt snickering when she heard that. Probably made her angry to, because uncle Av had knocked up auntie’s maid Hagar. See, I keep tabs on my relatives. After all, uncle Av rescued me from those heathen kings. What a guy. Now, if I were my old self, I probably say “what a sap.” But hindsight has, alas, proven me quite wrong. Guess uncle Av made the right choice after all back in those hills when we parted. The wicked city is just no place to live, raise a family, etc. I mean, these people were wicked. I think I’ve told you about the total debauchery that went on. If I had been smarter, I would have left that place. But you know how it is…I had a family to support, and working all those years in the city I had lost my shepherding and ranch management edge-I’d grown soft and I guess part of me even liked a little bit of indulgence, Sodom style, now and then. That’s me-always taking what looks like the easy path – only to discover anything that looks too good to be true usually is.
Well, no sooner do we finish feeding these visitors when there is this insistent banging on the door. I guess half the town was out there, shouting for us to send out the visitors so they could have their way with them. Well, I hadn’t been corrupted that far. Unlike most of the people of Sodom, I still welcomed visitors, shared my food and things, and played it pretty straight. OK, so occasionally I went to a party or two, got a little drunk, and wound up at an orgy. Just don’t tell the wife…oops, I forgot. No wife. I’ll get to that in a minute.
So I try to persuade my fellow townspeople to give it a rest, but they just won’t quit, and they start tugging at me trying to pull me out of the way and grab the strangers. Next thing I know there is this blinding white light, and I’m being dragged back inside by the visitors and the door gets slammed shut and bolted.
Well, nobody says anything for a minute – heck, you’d be speechless too. My wife and daughters are standing there agape. (There’s a little biblical joke in there, but, oh well, never mind, that’s thousands of years later and if you’re descendants of uncle Avi, you won’t get it anyway…) Even I am too stupefied to speak. So one of the visitors pipes up and comes clean. Says they’re angels sent by this G”d of uncle Avi, here to destroy Sodom and that stinkpot Gomorrah because they are just so utterly wicked. “Gee, thanks uncle Avi,” I mouth silently but one of the angels, who I guess can read lips (or minds?) retorts loudly – “Hey look. Your uncle actually had the nerve to argue with G”d and tell him it wasn’t right to destroy these cities, because there were righteous people in them too.” He turns to his partner and says “Can you believe that? He actually argued and then bargained with the boss-not like that Noah fellow-there was a good chap, just did what he was told.” His partner replied “Yeah, pretty unbelievable. But you know what I can’t believe even more? The boss actually bargained with him. I guess it’s kind of unfair, since the boss knew the outcome already, it was kind of an unfair bargain. Oh, well. What’s done is done. Now, look here Lot ben Haran, you need to get you and your family ought of here. By tomorrow.”
He said it with such authority I couldn’t help myself but to obey. I told the wife to start packing, and ran out of the house to find my daughter’s husbands. I was a little worried as I opened the door, but enough time had passed that the crowd had lost interest, and they were busy frolicking away. I found my sons-in-law inflagrante delicto with a couple of cult prostitutes. I told them I was taking my family – including there wives, out of this place tomorrow morning. They couldn’t seem to care less so I left them and ran home to pack.
I was up half the night getting ready, and finally fell asleep on the sacks. No sooner had morning light crept in the windows than these angels were up and dressed and waking up me and the family and telling us to hurry and get the heck out. I was so darn tired I just couldn’t make myself move very fast, so the next thing I know, one of the angels are dragging us out of the house, through the streets and out the main gate. “Hurry!” they said to me. “Get up into the hills, get out of this valley, or your gonna get caught in the shock wave.” I protested. All the way up into those hills with all this stuff? They had to be kidding. “Look,” I said, “how about we just go to that little village at the foot of the hills?” The angel takes something from out of his pocket and pokes at it and holds it up to his face and says something unintelligible into it. Then, wonder of wonders, I hear the voice of the other angel coming from this little thing – but I know we left him back in the city – and he was nowhere nearby us. Anyway, the angel shoves the thing back in his pocket, sighs, and says, “OK. Head for that little village. We’ll make sure you’re safe there. Now go.” So me and the missus and daughters start walking. “Oh wait, I almost forgot,” says the angel. “Whatever you do, don’t stop walking until you reach the village, and, for G”d’s sake, (forgive me, boss) whatever you do, don’t look back!” “OK, OK. Whatever you say. Thanks for the help” I say with a big phony smile pasted on my lips. I’d have sooner hauled off and smacked that angel with that smarmy look on his face. But no time. We gotta keep moving.
It was a long trek, but just as the sun was rising the next morning we were on the outskirts of the little village. All of a sudden, bada-bing, bada-bang, bada-boom, all heck breaks lose around Sodom and Gomorrah. “Don’t look” I said half to myself and half out loud. I shooed my wife and daughters in front of me. The it happened. That wife of mine, who never did listen to anything I said, stopped in her tracks and craned her neck around to see what was happening. I shouted to stop her, but it was too late. Before my eyes she turned into a pillar of salt! Well, I have to be honest and say that at that moment regret for my wife was the last thing on my mind. I was just plain scared. So I grabbed the daughters and we ran inside the village gate.
It was that evening before the enormity of what had happened dawned on me. My wife was gone. My home, my adopted city. Gone. Poof. Wiped out. We could see the smoking ruins from atop the village wall. We cried, all three of us, and hugged and held each other. They had lost their husbands. No goodniks that they were, they were still my daughter’s husbands and providers. And their Mother.
We stayed in the village a few days, but we really didn’t like it there, and being so close to the valley we could still see the smoking ruins. So I took the girls and headed up further into the hills and found us a nice cave to live in.
It was a pretty miserable existence, and frankly, I was feeling pretty miserable. Luckily, I had thought to stash some wine and beer in the sacks, and I started to drown my sorrows. Sometimes, I would wake up not remembering what I had done the night before. My daughters both had these mysterious looks on their faces. I finally figured out what had happened a few months later. They must have taken advantage of my drunken stupor and each of them must have lain with me and gotten pregnant! As if things weren’t bad enough, now I was as bad as those wicked Sodomites. Oh, sure, fathers sometimes slept with their daughters, but in our family it just wasn’t right, and we never did it. Until now, I guess. I feel so icky. And Yom Kippur won’t be invented for quite some time to come, so how am I supposed to deal with all this guilt? I’ve still got some wine left…
Tell me mazal tov! I’m a grandfather. Twice. Yeah, so I’m also their father… I’m learning to get over that. Although it’s a little hard to forget. Those daughters of mine, never could resist playing a cruel joke on me. Naming the kids Moab and Ben-ammi. Oy!
But the shame of it all keeps me a prisoner here in our little cave. Soon, I’ll send my daughters and grandsons on their way. I’m gonna stay here because I just can’t face my relatives…especially uncle Avi and aunt Sara. I just don’t want to have to explain these two boys. So I guess I’ll never get to see my kinfolk again…but I imagine my grandsons and their grandsons will be messing around with the grandsons of my kinfolk and their grandsons’ grandsons. Hope they get along with each other. And I hope they learn to trust uncle Avi. Try to put one over on him like I did and you’ll wind up paying the price.*
Well, gotta go. There’s a cute little redhead back in the village I’ve had my eye on for a while.
There ends Lot’s Journal. For some reason, it never made it into the holy stories. Not sure why. That’s why I’m publishing it now. Maybe people will like it. Sure, it’s cynical and self-indulgent. But heck, there’s plenty of that in the holy stories already, fer cryin’ out loud.
Me? I’m a distant descendant of Lot. My ancestors learned the hard way that the descendants of Lot’s uncle Abraham were not to be messed with. They practically wiped us out. Those of us who survived decided “if ya can’t beat ’em, join ’em” so now we’re all worshipping this El Gd. Supposedly, he’s THE Gd. But we keep a few statues of Baal and Ashtarte around just in case. Outside, in the nearby square, I can hear this Elisha fella warmin’ up the crowd. He’s supposed to be pretty good, although I hear he’s not too keen on us keeping idols around. Same old, same old, just like his teacher Eliyahu. Anyway, I got nothing better to do, guess I’ll go give him a listen.
© 1999, 2004 by Adrian A. Durlester
And now, for those who wanted the first part of the story…..see my musing from Lekh-Lekha 5765.
Other Musings on this parasha:
Vayeira 5778 – The Unitentional Test
Vayeira 5777 – He’s a Family Guy (?) (Redux and Revised 5769)
Vayeira 5766 – The Price of Giving (Redux/Revised 5766)
Vayeira 5775 – He’s a Family Guy (Revised Redux 5769)
Vayeira 5774–Plainly Spoken (Redux & Revised from 5762)
Vayera 5773 – Do Your Own Unpacking
Vayera 5772 – Well?
Vayera 5771 – Density
Vayera 5770 – Not Even Ten?
Vayeira 5769 – He’s a Family Guy (?)
Vayera 5767-Revised 5759-Whoops! (or Non-Linear Thinking)
Vayera 5766-The Price of Giving
Vayera 5762-Plainly Spoken
Vayera 5759-Whoops! (or “Non-Linear Thinking?”)
Vayera 5757-Technical Difficulties