Although the big destruction scene and Lot’s escape come next week, we meet Sodom and Gomorrah this week. Even though the name of Sodom has become synonymous with a sexual act, our sages record different acts as their true crimes. They would pervert justice at every turn. They made victims of stabbings pay a doctor’s fee to their attackers. Giving tzedakah was forbidden as was kindness to strangers. The sexual act for which they became known was, to them, only one more form of domination and cruelty to others.
Which forces us to ask, why did Lot go to live there? In the middle of the Parashah, Abraham has been greatly blessed by God and his whole household has prospered, including his nephew Lot. They are so successful that their shepherds begin competing for the same pasture land which leads to fights. Abraham gives Lot first pick of where he’d like to move to avoid the fights. Lot picks Sodom.
Lot was willing to risk himself and his family in a degenerate town rather than simply tell his employees to back off in their fights with Abraham’s men. His own material advancement, which came only as a byproduct of his relationship with Abraham, was more important than staying with Abraham and, perhaps, not prospering quite as much because he would have to share. Remember, this is land that will be shared by hundreds of thousands later on who will find ways to peacefully coexist because they recognize the need for compromise. When we choose to part company for personal gain, we find the company of the wicked almost comforting.