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Thought for the Day: Making the Right Decision Can Save Your Life

A theme that runs through Michtav me'Eliyahu is that are ultimate performance in this world is graded by the decisions we make and not the outcomes of those decisions.  In truth, this thought runs through all of Torah philosophy, but R' Dessler brings it to the fore.  Integrating that idea changes not only the way we perceive the world, but how we conduct ourselves.  It means, for example, that expected outcomes are much more important than what really happens, because those expectations have a bearing on our decision making process.  It also mean, however, that those expectations are not the only factor relevant in making decisions.  The moral value of our decisions and the difficulty in making those decisions also have a bearing on our decision making process.

Consider Lot: the very day that he is appointed as a judge in S'dom, two angels come to destroy the city.  Talk about bad timing, no?  No!  Lot, feeling very impressed with himself because he is a newcomer and has been appointed to such a chashuv position, sees our two angels.  Thinking them travelers and knowing how the community feels about guests, Lot decides to be very magnanimous and offer them shelter.  The angels say, "No, thank you.  We'd rather sleep in the street."  Nice... quite a slap in the face, right?  Beside the insult itself, there is the fact (as Rashi points out) that you are not allowed to turn down an adam chashuv (as we learn from the their conduct with his Uncle Avraham).  One would expect Lot to say, "Have it your way, suckers."  Instead, Lot presses them to please come to his house.  Lot then defends them against the entire community, even at the risk of his own life and his daughters' virtue.  All because he learned chesed and hachnasas orchim in Avraham Avinu's home, and Lot was not going to abandon that last connection to Avraham and his G-d.  And that is what saved his life.  His refusal to give up that Torah principle in the face of such difficult circumstances saved his life.

So it was not bad timing at all to be appointed judge that day.  Just the opposite!  The hashgacha arranged for Lot to be promoted davka on that day in order to set Lot up for the stinging insult of "we'd rather sleep in the street"; all in order to save his life.  That's great timing; but you can only see that when you look through the glasses that Chazal have provided.

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