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Parashat Vayera 5757
Avraham did not trust the Egyptian people. "You are an attractive woman," he told his wife Sarah as they approached Egypt. "I am afraid that if they realize that I am your husband, the Egyptians will kill me and take you for themselves. Claim to be my sister -- that way, not only will the Egyptians allow me to live, they will shower me with gifts on your behalf." (Bereishit 12:11-13 and Rashi). Clearly, the lot of a beautiful woman's brother is monetary compensation and respect. Avraham was, in fact, given a considerable reward when Sarah was later taken to the Egyptian king (12:16). But who truly was Sarah's brother? Sarah was the daughter of Avraham's brother Haran (Bereishit 11:29 and Rashi). Lot was Haran's son (11:27). Lot was Sarah's true brother! [It may even be suggested that Avraham was taking advantage of this fact when he called himself Sarah's brother. Avraham and Lot were identical in appearance (Rashi, Bereishit 13:8). Even their difference in age did not make them distinguishable (Bava Metzia 81a). Perhaps Lot waited outside of Egypt while Avraham entered with Sarah claiming that he was really Lot, Sarah's brother!] Had Lot simply told the Egyptians that Avraham was Sarah's husband and not her brother, then Lot himself -- Sarah's true brother -- would have received all the royal gifts. His greedy nature was undoubtedly driving him to reveal Avraham's secret and reap rewards from the royal coffers! Yet Lot resisted this impulse, and didn't betray his uncle Avraham.
We can now appreciate why Lot was saved from sharing the fate of Sodom due to his restraint while Avraham was in Egypt. How did the merit of keeping Avraham's secret save Lot from the fate of Sodom? Because that virtuous act showed that he, unlike the other inhabitants of Sodom, *was* able to control his greed. In this merit, he was singled out from the other inhabitants of Sodom to survive the city's destruction!
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