But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. — Genesis 19:26
The Torah portion for this week is Vayeira, which means “and he appeared,” from Genesis 18:1—22:24, and the Haftorah is from 2 Kings 4:1–37.
In 2000, Reed Hastings, the founder of a fledgling company called Netflix, approached the CEO of the leading movie rental company with his concept. The idea was that people could subscribe online and receive DVDs delivered to their homes. Reed suggested a partnership where the established company would promote Netflix while Netflix would take the company’s brand online.
Reed was laughed out of the office. The well-situated, traditional movie rental company couldn’t see how Reed’s idea was necessary. However, 10 years later, that once-profitable company was bankrupt, while today Netflix is a successful company to the tune of $61.6 billion!
What caused the epic downfall of a once unrivaled company? The failure to be open to change. The determination to keep things the same. Resistance to a new model of operation.
This same resistance is present within most of us. Change can be scary and difficult. However, if we want to live our best life, we have to be open to new ways of doing things. We have to be willing to step out in faith. We have to be ready to let go of our past in order to enter a brighter and better future.
This idea is so wonderfully illustrated in this week’s Torah portion. We read about how angels of God went to Abraham’s nephew, Lot, one evening in order to warn him of the impending destruction of Lot’s hometown, Sodom. As instructed, Lot notified his sons-in-law to be, but they laughed him off and refused to consider that Sodom might be destroyed.
Scripture tells us that as dawn neared, even Lot had trouble accepting that he had to take action. When the angels saw that Lot hesitated, they took him and his family by their hands and led them out of the city. Next, the angels instructed Lot and his family to run for their lives and not look back at Sodom. However, “Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.”
Why was Lot’s wife punished specifically in this way? One idea is that because she resisted change by looking back at her old life, she was transformed into an element that prevents change. She wanted to preserve what was old, so she was made into salt, a preservative that kept things from getting old.
Sometimes God makes it abundantly clear that we need to make a change in our lives. Perhaps we need to switch jobs, move to a new place, or embrace a healthier lifestyle. At these times we need to trust God and move forward. Don’t look back at the past; focus on God, Who is leading you to a better future.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President