True Justice: The Individual vs. the Group by Yoni Liss


            This week's parsha (Perek יח) provides a true example of justice in the Torah.  Hashem informs Avraham that the city of Sedom and the surrounding cities are to be destroyed.  Avraham is dismayed that Hashem would destroy the whole city and so he tries to convince Hashem not to destroy Sedom.  Avraham's whole argument is based on the individual versus the group, as he asks in )יח:כג( האף תספה צדיק עם רשע - would you destroy the righteous along with the wicked?"  Avraham's argument is that on the merit of the righteous, the whole city should be spared.  Rashi, commenting on pasuk יד attributes the following question to Avraham:  ואם תאמר לא יצילו צדיקים  את הרשעים למה תמית הצדיקים?.  "Even if you won't save the evil with the righteous, why should the righteous die?"  We see that while evil people can be spared on the merit of the righteousness, righteous people certainly can't be killed just because they belong to an evil whole.  The Torah teaches us an important lesson as to when the individual takes precedence over the group and when the opposite takes place.  When the individual is righteous, then the whole group can be spared.  On the other hand, if the whole group is too evil to be saved, the individual who is righteous is still spared (as Lot was).  These Pesukim are a true example of the Torah's amazing sense of justice.

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