Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Vayeira - Lot's Daughters & Kiddushin for Bnei Noach - A Kasha

In parshas Vayeira, when the men of Sdom were demanding that Lot hand over his three guests so that the people there could forcibly be with them, he refuses and, very troublingly, offers them his two daughters, saying "הִנֵּה-נָא לִי שְׁתֵּי בָנוֹת, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יָדְעוּ אִישׁ--אוֹצִיאָה-נָּא אֶתְהֶן אֲלֵיכֶם, וַעֲשׂוּ לָהֶן כַּטּוֹב בְּעֵינֵיכֶם." (Bereishis 19:8) Basicly, he tells them that these two daughters have never been with a man and that they can do what they want with them. It is obviously troubling how he could do this, and it is another illustration of why Chazal say that Lot was not saved on his own merit, but rather on the merit of Avrham.

I had a kasha a few psukim later, though where Lot goes to tell everyone in his family that they must flee before Sdom is destroyed. He goes to tell all of his sons-in-law and they all laugh him off. In Bereshis 19:14, it says that he told, "חֲתָנָיו לֹקְחֵי בְנֹתָיו," "his sons-in-law, the betrothers of his daughters." My first question on this was that a few psukim earlier, he had just said that his daughters had never been with a man, but now there are sons-in-law? Was he lying to the Anshei Sdom?

So Rashi answers this on the spot and he says that "חֲתָנָיו" refers to his married daughters living outside the home, and that "לֹקְחֵי בְנֹתָיו" refers to the men who had betrothed his two daughters using the first of the two stages of the marriage process, Kiddushin. They, therefore, were still living at home and had never been with their husbands yet. Therefore, this answers my question that he was truthfully able to say that those two daughters had never been with any man.

However, this made me think of another question. According to Rashi, at least with regard to the laws of marriage, Lot is keeping the laws of the "future" Torah, just as Chazal say Avraham was. But if this is the case, why did he offer his daughters to Anshei Sdom at all, from a halachic perspective? If they were Arusos (betrothed) already, for all intents and purposes, they were married women and it would have been adultery for Anshei Sdom to be with them. So why is that any better than the mishkav zachar that they wanted to do to the three guests? Either way it is a capital transgression of Gilui Arayos for Bnei Noach! What is he gaining by trying to give over his daughters?

However, I was thinking that the Rambam says at the beginning of Hilchos Ishus (1:1) "קודם מתן תורה, היה אדם פוגע אישה בשוק--אם רצה הוא והיא לישא אותה--מכניסה לביתו ובועלה בינו לבין עצמו, ותהיה לו לאישה." "Before the Torah was given [the way a marriage was effectuated was that] a man would meet a woman in the market. If he and she wanted to get married, he would bring her into his home, have relations with her in private, and she would be his wife." Therefore, for the halachos of Bnei Noach, since these two daughters had only been betrothed to their "husbands," and were still living with their father, those daughters were not considered married women at all, and therefore it wouldn't have been the more serious transgression of Gilui Arayos/adultery for those people to be with them, since according to the laws of Bnei Noach, they weren't married at all.

Of course it could also be that Rashi and the Gur Areye on the spot were using the term "arusos," betrothed in a lav davka sort of way. They might have been using it in the way modern Israelis use the term, which just meant "engaged" without any kiddushin or "Harei At Mekudeshes Li." Either way, it is unbelievable that Lot could even think of doing that to his daughters. A friend suggested over Shabbos that since Hachnasos Orchim was the only good mida that Lot picked up from Avraham, he took it to the extreme, with any thought or perspective whatsoever.

This mida is no so unheard of. Sometimes, someone with a Yartzeit pushes another chiyuv out of the way so that he can daven for the amud. Other times, somebody is so focused on davening in their makom kavuah, their usual spot in Shul (One who davens in a set place with have the G-d of Avraham helping him out, after all), that when he comes in to Shul a few minutes late, he will make a guest in Shul who happens to be sitting in "his" seat feel unwelcome. It's not good to be so focused on one particular mitzva, such that it pushes all sense of perspective and balance out of one's brain. This, my friend suggested was Lot's mistake with his daughters. Perhaps the way he treated them is somehow related to the ignoble act they did with him that produced Amon and Moav...

-Dixie Yid

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yitz said...

i remember learning as a child that the angels appeared as angels to Lot whereas they appeared as men to Avraham... the reason being that Lot would have ignored them if they were just men.

in that light, Lot was giving up his daughters to protect angels, which is very different than offering his daughters to protect some visitors..

(why the angels needed protection is certainly a question?)

re: the betrothed daughters.. it doesn't seem like it was a halachic betrothal, many different peoples practice betrothal.. but where do we determine that Lot's interest was in preventing the people of Sdom from sinning? His interest seems clearly to protect his visitors without even a thought to his own daughters' wellbeing.

Anonymous said...

There are cultures now in the Far East where a good host hires for the guest companionship for the night. So what Lot did is not that far off for cultural norms in Sodom. This is mentioned at the end of 5th chapter of Avodah Zorah.

" As it once happened that Mar Jehudah and Bati b. Tubi were guests at the table of King Sabur when a citron was served; the king took a piece from it for himself and another piece he tendered to Bati b. Tubi; then he took the knife, stuck it in the ground ten times, cut off another piece, and gave it to Mar Jehudah. Thereupon said Bati b. Tubi: Am I not an Israelite that you thus cleanse the knife for him and not for me? And the king answered: I am convinced of Mar Jehudah's profound piety, but not of yours. According to others, however, the king's answer was this: Recall what you committed last night. (See Rashi - that he sent him a woman at night, which R,. Yehuda refused but b. tubi did not).

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...


Thanks for your thoughts. As to your first point, I suppose I could hear it. I just wasn't thinking of it like that.

As far as Lot not being concerned about Lifnei Iver, that could also be. I guess I was taking RAshi to the next step. IF Rashi's talking about Lot having two daughters that are Nesu'os and two that are Arusos, then I just saw him as saying Lot was applying halachic standards, in which case he might have been doing the whole thing with the daughters as a Lifnei Iver type of thing. But it definitely could be that he was just being totally non-thinking about his daughters' wellbeing.


Thank's for the ma'areh makom. I actually am learning Avoda Zara now but we're not up there yet. Only to 37b, the a beis din that makes three kula'dik piskei halahca is called a "Beis Din Matir," which apparantly no Beis Din wants to be called. I still haven't gotten to pshat in that inyan, but I"m still in the middle.

-Dixie Yid