In Vayera, this week’s Torah portion, we read about the destruction of Sodom. There we read:
15 And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying: ‘Arise, take your wife, and your two daughters that are here; lest you be swept away in the iniquity of the city.’ 16 But he lingered; and the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being merciful unto him. And they brought him forth, and set him without the city. 17 And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said: ‘Escape for your life; look not behind you, neither stay in all the Plain; escape to the mountain, lest you be swept away.’
Here Lot and his family are being told to get out of there and not to linger. And as we all know Lot’s wife does turn around and is turned into a Pillar of Salt. Lot’s daughters fear that world has been destroyed. As compared to their mother who seems to linger these young women shift into gear and set a twisted plan to save the world. They intoxicate their father and get him to sleep with them. They bear Moav and Amon. The Israelites are instructed not to marry people from these two tribes. Later on in the Book of Ruth we learn that indeed Boaz marries Ruth a Moabite. Their children are the progenitors of the David and in turn the line of the Messiah.
In the 12th of Rambam’s 13 principles of faith we read:
I believe with complete faith in the coming of Messiah, and although he may tarry, nevertheless, I wait every day for him to come.
It is noteworthy that the word “tarry” shares the same root as the word in our Torah portion for lingered וַיִּתְמַהְמָהּ . What does it mean that Lot is instructed to not tarry, but in the end the Messiah who is ultimately descended from him will linger? What do we make of this?
This seems to point to a basic human trait. We all love to procrastinate ( see Matzah here). I am not alone in realizing that I often will wait until that last-minute and then pull the all-nighter to get the job done. It seems only just that our ultimate salvation will be held up doing the same.