Remembering Lot’s Wife with Every Offering

 

Sodom is being destroyed. Lot and his family are fleeing, and they have been strictly instructed to not look back. But Lot’s wife, for one reason or another, cannot control herself, and she is famously turned into a pillar of salt.

It sounds like a tragic but odd, and perhaps even irrelevant, story. After all, what can we learn from this vignette?

Quite a lot, it seems. Much later in the Torah, G-d instructs:

 עַ֥ל כׇּל־קׇרְבָּנְךָ֖ תַּקְרִ֥יב מֶֽלַח׃ {ס}         with all your offerings you must bring salt.

Why salt? With every single offering? What possible meaning is there in it?

The story of Lot’s wife gives us the answer: she looked back. And therein is our answer, because every sacrifice is always about finding a way to move forward – whether in thanksgiving or in atonement or for any of the other reasons we bring sacrifices. The G-d of the Torah is always interested in the future, and commands us to do similarly: it is one reason, for example, we are barred from marking mark ourselves for the dead.

We can only grow if we are able to put the past behind us, focus on doing better, and keeping our eyes focused on the goal. And to do that, we have salt present at every offering, to remind us of what happens when we decide to copy Lot’s wife by looking back at where we come from, instead of staying focused on where we need to go.

Remember, of course, that sacrifices are not for G-d  – they are for us. To G-d, sacrifices are mere gestures, symbols of what we are feeling. The purpose of a sacrifice is to be able to grow from the past, to build a relationship going forward. And for that, we need to be reminded to keep our eyes on the future. We have salt present at each offering to help us remember that when we instead choose to live in the past, we are choosing what is ultimately a dead end.

 

[an @iwe and @blessedblacksmith work]

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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    iWe: Remember, of course, that sacrifices are not for G-d  – they are for us.

    Indeed.

    • #1
  2. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn
    @Caryn

    Kol ha’kavod.

    • #2
  3. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    As we are reminded in the first chapter of Boston’s new Testament:

    • #3
  4. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    I’m no scholar, but I always took the story of Lot’s wife as an injunction against becoming paralyzed with indecision, hesitation, lack of commitment to a decision once made.  You cannot leap a chasm in two short hops.

    • #4
  5. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Lot’s wife is a foreshadow of the Exodus. Remember the grumbling in the wilderness? They wanted to go back. But you can’t go back, so stop looking back.

    • #5
  6. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Also, see Luke 9:62.

    • #6
  7. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Such great songs go with Lot and the Wilderness and now they are in my head.

    So you want to go back to Egypt – Keith green

    Painting Pictures of Egypt – Sara Groves

    Burn the Ships – King & Country

    • #7
  8. jonb60173 Member
    jonb60173
    @jonb60173

    Well, faith is in short order

    • #8
  9. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    iWe:

    Sodom is being destroyed.

    And I thought this post was going to be about Washington. 

    Disappointed!

     

    • #9
  10. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    iWe: After all, what can we learn from this vignette?

    Too much salt is bad for you?

    • #10
  11. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Interesting.  At the same time, we are being destroyed by those who want to erase the past and gaze only at the future, a distant future to be sure and a familiar one, but a future  free of accumulated human wisdom.

    • #11
  12. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    How bad are things that you would miss Sodom and Gomorrah and look back wistfully.  In the worst neighborhoods in the poorest cities in the US do neighbors pound on the door and demand that your dinner guests be turned over to them for a gang rape?  Yeah, but the schools had great SAT results and then there’s the shopping and the museums and the nightlife and I will really miss my therapist and my yoga instructor…

    I never read much in the story of Lot’s wife except for the message that direct, precise, unambiguous divine instructions need to be followed.

    • #12
  13. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    I saw what you did there.  It is a rather large metaphor for a sound philosophical concept.  But there is more.  The present is also fraught with horror.  People are haunted by the past, but paralyzed by the present.  Focus on the future; that is the only way to live.  Faith is itself a dedication to the future; that whatever the future holds for us, if there is faith, good will prevail no matter how painful the present may be.  Never despair.

    • #13
  14. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    I think it’s a story about how sexual abuse is bad. But I am not a Biblical literalist.

    You notice how after Sodom and Gomorra, Lot has sex with his daughters? So there was horrible and systematic sexual abuse, the wife does not absolutely turn away from sexual abuse and when she dies Lott abuses his daughters.

    As an amateur psychotherapist, I see a pattern similar to sexual abuse in a family and as an amateur anthropologist, I see the Jews turning away from a culture of raping boys. Go Jews!

    • #14
  15. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    The Torah does depict an Evil, vengeful God.  Fortunately, it’s a fictional God.

    • #15
  16. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn
    @Caryn

    HeavyWater has not read the Torah or has only done so superficially.  Also, really, HW, what’s the point of making the other crack?  Must you be the skunk at the garden party?  I don’t understand entering a thread with a serious discussion on a religious topic to tell us how mad you are at God.  In truth, that’s the only reason that makes sense.  If you don’t believe, why comment among believers except to call attention to yourself for…why?

    • #16
  17. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    The Torah does depict an Evil, vengeful God. Fortunately, it’s a fictional God.

    Dude. What’s the point?

    • #17
  18. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Caryn (View Comment):

    HeavyWater has not read the Torah or has only done so superficially. Also, really, HW, what’s the point of making the other crack? Must you be the skunk at the garden party? I don’t understand entering a thread with a serious discussion on a religious topic to tell us how mad you are at God. In truth, that’s the only reason that makes sense. If you don’t believe, why comment among believers except to call attention to yourself for…why?

    He’s signaling the virtue he doesn’t have. He imagines himself intellectually superior. Try not to laugh.

    • #18
  19. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn
    @Caryn

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    I think it’s a story about how sexual abuse is bad. But I am not a Biblical literalist.

    You notice how after Sodom and Gomorra, Lot has sex with his daughters? So there was horrible and systematic sexual abuse, the wife does not absolutely turn away from sexual abuse and when she dies Lott abuses his daughters.

    As an amateur psychotherapist, I see a pattern similar to sexual abuse in a family and as an amateur anthropologist, I see the Jews turning away from a culture of raping boys. Go Jews!

    Actually Lot doesn’t abuse his daughters (though offering them to the crowd wasn’t very fatherly).  As the story goes, the daughters, fearing that the world has again been destroyed, think they need to repopulate it.  On subsequent nights they get their father drunk and “lie” with him, producing the tribes of Moab and Ammon.  

    • #19
  20. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Caryn (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    I think it’s a story about how sexual abuse is bad. But I am not a Biblical literalist.

    You notice how after Sodom and Gomorra, Lot has sex with his daughters? So there was horrible and systematic sexual abuse, the wife does not absolutely turn away from sexual abuse and when she dies Lott abuses his daughters.

    As an amateur psychotherapist, I see a pattern similar to sexual abuse in a family and as an amateur anthropologist, I see the Jews turning away from a culture of raping boys. Go Jews!

    Actually Lot doesn’t abuse his daughters (though offering them to the crowd wasn’t very fatherly). As the story goes, the daughters, fearing that the world has again been destroyed, think they need to repopulate it. On subsequent nights they get their father drunk and “lie” with him, producing the tribes of Moab and Ammon.

    That’s a good point. Why did the women initiate horrible sexual practices? It’s a pretty odd story. 

    • #20
  21. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Caryn (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    I think it’s a story about how sexual abuse is bad. But I am not a Biblical literalist.

    You notice how after Sodom and Gomorra, Lot has sex with his daughters? So there was horrible and systematic sexual abuse, the wife does not absolutely turn away from sexual abuse and when she dies Lott abuses his daughters.

    As an amateur psychotherapist, I see a pattern similar to sexual abuse in a family and as an amateur anthropologist, I see the Jews turning away from a culture of raping boys. Go Jews!

    Actually Lot doesn’t abuse his daughters (though offering them to the crowd wasn’t very fatherly). As the story goes, the daughters, fearing that the world has again been destroyed, think they need to repopulate it. On subsequent nights they get their father drunk and “lie” with him, producing the tribes of Moab and Ammon.

    That’s a good point. Why did the women initiate horrible sexual practices? It’s a pretty odd story.

    It’s possible Lot stopped trying to find them husbands. That’s left out of the story, though. Regardless, the women believed they would never be married and became desperate to provide for themselves. That’s what sons were – providers for their mothers.

    • #21
  22. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Caryn (View Comment):
    Actually Lot doesn’t abuse his daughters (though offering them to the crowd wasn’t very fatherly). 

    Read it carefully. Lot closes the door behind him – he is mocking the crowd, telling them “I would just as soon offer you my daughters as give up my guests.”

    Otherwise he would have brought them out for evaluation, or at least left the door open.

    And it explains why the crowd responds NOT with “No, thank you. We’ll take the guests,” but with “How dare you!”

    • #22
  23. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    Why did the women initiate horrible sexual practices? It’s a pretty odd story. 

    My brother argues that Sodom had lost interest in procreation, in investing in the future. So the daughters truly feared that there was nobody who was interested in making babies. 

    Their decision was poor, but it reflects the mindset of the town.

    • #23
  24. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    iWe (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    Why did the women initiate horrible sexual practices? It’s a pretty odd story.

    My brother argues that Sodom had lost interest in procreation, in investing in the future. So the daughters truly feared that there was nobody who was interested in making babies.

    Their decision was poor, but it reflects the mindset of the town.

    Fascinating.

    • #24