Last year, I visited Eretz Yisroel (Israel).   While I was there, I tagged along on a tiyul (day trip/outing) to Ein Gedi, the Dead Sea and Mount Sodom (they are all nearby each other). As the bus drove along, I kept my eyes peeled to the window, looking out at the desert landscape. I was looking for that famed pillar of salt.  I was looking for her.

Her name is Iris (Ee-ris), and she lived with her husband Lot and her daughters in the town in Sodom. Sodom was famous for its verdant fields, yet infamous for  not being the most charitable and hospitable town around.  In fact, not only was loving kindness discouraged, one could also be punished for doing such deeds!  That was why, when guests arrived to visit, it was all kept hush-hush. Or so it was meant to be, until Iris (who was not the nicest woman) hinted to a neighbour that they had guests, under the pretext of borrowing salt. The townsmen were soon hounding at Lot’s door, angry that he had guests and demanding that Lot hand over the guests (who were really angels in disguise) so that the townsmen can have their ‘fun’. Lot refused….

In the end, Hashem saw how evil Sodom was, as was its neighbouring city Amorah (Gemorra, as those who lein [chant] with the Sephardi pronunciation say it) and decided that it was high time to destroy it. He let Lot escape with his family, and Lot escaped with his wife and two daughters, escorted by the angels. The angles told Lot and his family not to look back at the burning of Sodom (one of the reasons being that Lot was only being saved in Avraham’s merit, and was not really better then his fellow inhabitants of the city), but Lot’s wife turned around and she was turned into a pillar of salt.

It is alleged that that the pillar of salt she turned into looks like a woman and is by the Dead Sea. The pillar most cited to be her is in the picture.

Next Week’s Topic: What grew in the town of Tekoa during  the days of the first Bais Hamikdash (Temple)?