22. The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham
remained standing before the Lord.
23. Then Abraham approached him and said:
“Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?”
Reflection by Darlene Wagner
Abraham’s prayer on behalf of Sodom ultimately changes the Lord’s intention from destruction to preservation. The Lord initially resolves to spare the unjust city if 50 righteous persons are found living within it. Abraham then expressed concern that the number of righteous in Sodom would fall short of 50. He ultimately pleads with God to settle upon sparing the city for the sake of 10 righteous persons. Unfortunately, Sodom lacked even 10 righteous. Although I’m personally convinced that the ancient cities, Sodom and Ghomorrah actually existed, this story is not intended to be a history lesson. Instead, the lack of righteous people in Sodom serves as a sort of allegory for the entire human-inhabited world.
In modern Jewish mysticism, it is taught that 36 truly righteous and humble persons exist upon Earth at any given time. They are the Lamed Vavniks, the reason God does not wipe humans off the Earth. Whenever one of the 36 passes away, another is divinely chosen. Moreover, Lamed Vavniks are such perfect examples of Divine Love that they are not aware of their saintly status and they constantly pray for other people around them.