One of the most bizarre decisions made in Sefar Bereshit occurs in this Parsha when Lot, ever so chivalrously saves the two angels from the angry mob chasing them looking to “know” them, yet offers his daughter instead. How is it possible for one to offer two people to an angry mob in order to save others? This question is significantly stronger when one realizes that it’s Lot’s very own daughters he is offering on place of two random strangers.
The answer to this question may require a closer look at Lot’s personality. Understanding who he is might shed light on this particular event.
When Lot decides to head towards S’dom he himself describes his reasoning. Lot desire S’dom because it is “K’Gan Hashem K’Eretz Mitzrayim.” Lot’s motives at first glance are somewhat paradoxical. On the one hand he seeks Gan Hashem, seemingly a noble desire. Yet, on the other hand, he wants Eretz Mitzrayim, something completely different. Which culture does Lot want? How does Lot perceive himself? Which culture is Lot seeking?
The answer may be in fact that Lot wants both. Lot may view himself as someone fits into Gan Hashem, seemingly, something positive, as well as Eretz Mitzrayim, something less so. Lot isn’t bothered with the contradiction of complete identity with Avaham and simultaneously one with S’dom. Lot is fully self-aware of his hypocrisy. Lot has no problem fitting into the role of a Tzadik and that of a total Rasha as well. In his mind the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Lot enjoys inviting guests and religious service yet has no problem identifying totally with S’dom and all it represents.
This may explain Lot’s actions with his daughters and angles. When on a mission to do a Mitzvah, wearing his Tzadik’s hat, Lot will stop at nothing to accomplish just that. However, being a complete Rasha, allows him to find the first solution viable, no matter the cost. Lot, being a classic member of S’dom’s community and moral code, views rape as normal and legitimate. His daughters grew up in S’dom and can handle the situation. His guest, on the other hand, aren’t used to such behavior. He therefore has no ethical dilemma and is willing to send his daughters to the angry mob, yet shelter his guests from an uncomfortable situation. In other words, the only way one can explain Lot’s contradicting actions of saving the angels while sacrificing his daughters, is to realize its a manifestation of his contradictory personality.
Psychologically speaking, this attitude of Lot’s is often developed by believing strongly that religion (or anything for that matter) is correct, yet not being able to stick with it. When one desires to be a Tzadik so much yet realizes one can’t, one is faced with a problem. A resolution that could be reached is to be a Tzadik when one can, even if only temporary. Yet when the commitment needed is too tough and one isn’t interested in doing the work, one may allow one’s self to fall. If it’s too hard to always be good and one really wishes one could, it’s easier to be a Tzadik when its easy to be one and a Rasha when being a Tzadik is too difficult. Lot’s failure may be an outgrowth of his inability to fully commit to the lifestyle he desires. Instead Lot replaces a full commitment with a part-time job acting as a Tzadik.
This psychological theory may be alluded to in the Chumash as well.
Lot is first introduced on a substantive level in the beginning of Perek 12. The Torah reports that when Avraham travels to Israel, Lot accompanies him. “VaYaLech Eto Lot (12:4)” almost to suggest that Lot left towards Israel with the same excitement, vigor and ambition. Lot too, left for ideological reasons, in a journey towards Israel and looking to make his mark on the world. Yet in the adjacent Pasuk (12:5) Lot seems to have lost his drive. The Torah records “VaYikach Avraham et Sarah Isto, V’et Lot . . . ” Here Avraham seems to be dragging Lot along to Israel. What happened to his excitement? What could have turned him off?
This may explain Lot’s reaction and feeling when Avraham left towards Israel. At first he is completely excited to go to Israel. Lot is on board one hundred percent. However, when the initial excitement wore off, Lot needs to be dragged along. This may lend support to the fact that Lot gets inspired quickly, but can’t keep up the commitment. It may have been this very trait that spun out of control and allowed Lot to develop into the hypocrite that he was.