Despite the tragic end to the Sodom and Gomorrah story (spoiler: all the people die), it is one of my all time favourite biblical stories, and found within Vayeira, a Torah portion that has so many incredible stories.
So what is sit that makes this powerful and interesting to Yacov (you might be asking yourself)?
Upon hearing the plan to destroy these cities and their inhabitants, Avraham challenges God: "how can the Judge of All the Land act unjustly!" Abraham then unsuccessfully negotiates to try to save any innocent or righteous people living in those cities.
I am incredibly moved by Abraham's commitment to justice and the value of human life and dignity (kavod habriyot), and even more so by his ẖutzpah and willingness to challenge God.
Before this interaction, there is a strange conversation that seems to be happening between God and Godself, where God is deciding whether or not to reveal to Avraham the plan to destroy these two cities. God seems to be concerned that Avraham would not approve and challenge God's decision (which thank God happens!), because Abraham is a person who will “instruct his children and household to keep God’s ways, doing tzedakah u-mishpat” (Genesis 18:19). God lays out here the mission statement of the Jewish people: to bring righteousness and justice into the world. Some commentaries suggest that we should read the verse slightly differently, and that our mission is in fact to bring "compassionate justice" into the world.
Perhaps on this Shabbat, we can take a few minutes to consider what each of us are doing to further this mission in our communities.