“And the two angels came to Sodom in the evening and Lot was sitting at the gate of Sodom” (Genesis 19:1).
Hold on a minute! Didn’t Lot learn anything from his previous misadventure? In the previous parshah, Avraham endangered himself and his entire family in a World War to save Lot from captivity after he unwisely decided to move to Sodom. After Avraham redeems him, though, Lot disregards everything that transpired and goes right back to Sin City as if nothing had happened at all.
In order to understand this psychosis, all we have to do is look at all the Israelis applying for citizenship in the country that brought us the Holocaust. Lot probably told himself that his capture at the hands of the kings was nothing more than an historic accident. If the four kings had not warred with the five kings, it would never have happened. The Israelis in Berlin share the same line of thinking: If there hadn’t been a war, the Holocaust would never have happened.
Wars, however, are not the reason for holocausts; they are simply the opportunity to perpetrate them. Even after the war, the Poles continued to slaughter Jews who dared return home from the death camps.
So the real question is not why Lot returned to Sodom, but why Avraham endangered his entire historic mission and set out on an illogical war to save him. After all, he had enough money to redeem him from captivity. In no place in the Torah does G-d command Avraham to fight this war. Did Avraham exercise poor judgment? Why put his years of building and effort on the line for his rebellious nephew who knowingly went to live in Sin City?
The answer is that Avraham did not only go to war to save Lot; he also went to save his mission. Lot’s capture placed his entire destiny on the scales. Everybody knew that Lot was Avraham’s nephew, and they waited to see how Avraham would react. Avraham understood that if he would be unwilling to endanger himself and fight for his relatives, he would no longer be respected. Worse than that, he would lose the legitimacy for his very existence. From here on in, he would be dependent on the kindness of others.
This war is listed by our Sages as one of Avraham’s 10 trials. Avraham had to overcome his personal considerations and respond like a free nation to this affront to his sovereignty – making him worthy to establish the Nation of Israel. After Abraham successfully traverses this trial and wins the war against the kings of the north, G-d makes a covenant (the Covenant of Pieces) with him and promises him the Land of Israel.
Sounds strange? G-d sides with the winner? Not at all. G-d chooses the man who is willing to fight for his destiny, and not just for his existence.