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In this weeks parsha of Vayeira, I counted 6 references to the words דלת and פתח, all in the story of Lot and Sodom. I don't believe this is a coincidence, since its all about standing in the door, opening the door, closing the door, all of which is irrelevant information. It must be teaching something.

Genesis 19: 6-11

ו וַיֵּצֵא אֲלֵהֶם לוֹט, הַפֶּתְחָה; וְהַדֶּלֶת, סָגַר אַחֲרָיו. 6 And Lot went out unto them to the door, and shut the door after him.

ז וַיֹּאמַר: אַל-נָא אַחַי, תָּרֵעוּ. 7 And he said: 'I pray you, my brethren, do not so wickedly.

8 ח הִנֵּה-נָא לִי שְׁתֵּי בָנוֹת, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יָדְעוּ אִישׁ--אוֹצִיאָה-נָּא אֶתְהֶן אֲלֵיכֶם, וַעֲשׂוּ לָהֶן כַּטּוֹב בְּעֵינֵיכֶם; רַק לָאֲנָשִׁים הָאֵל, אַל-תַּעֲשׂוּ דָבָר, כִּי-עַל-כֵּן בָּאוּ, בְּצֵל קֹרָתִי. Behold now, I have two daughters that have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes; only unto these men do nothing; forasmuch as they are come under the shadow of my roof.'

ט וַיֹּאמְרוּ גֶּשׁ-הָלְאָה, וַיֹּאמְרוּ הָאֶחָד בָּא-לָגוּר וַיִּשְׁפֹּט שָׁפוֹט--עַתָּה, נָרַע לְךָ מֵהֶם; וַיִּפְצְרוּ בָאִישׁ בְּלוֹט מְאֹד, וַיִּגְּשׁוּ לִשְׁבֹּר הַדָּלֶת. 9 And they said: 'Stand back.' And they said: 'This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs play the judge; now will we deal worse with thee, than with them.' And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and drew near to break the door.

י וַיִּשְׁלְחוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים אֶת-יָדָם, וַיָּבִיאוּ אֶת-לוֹט אֲלֵיהֶם הַבָּיְתָה; וְאֶת-הַדֶּלֶת, סָגָרוּ. 10 But the men put forth their hand, and brought Lot into the house to them, and the door they shut.

יא וְאֶת-הָאֲנָשִׁים אֲשֶׁר-פֶּתַח הַבַּיִת, הִכּוּ בַּסַּנְוֵרִים, מִקָּטֹן, וְעַד-גָּדוֹל; וַיִּלְאוּ, לִמְצֹא הַפָּתַח. 11 And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great; so that they wearied themselves to find the door.

An even bigger mystery is the corresponding haftarah in 2 Kings Chapter 4 made 5 references to the words דלת, פתח, (in reference to closing a door:) סגור.

What is the significance of this?

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2 Answers 2

The following is my understanding based on things I've read, but I can't give any sources at present.

On a physical level, a doorway or a gateway is the dividing line between one domain and another. If there is a door, opening it allows people or things to go from one domain to the other, and closing it effects the opposite. (And bolting the door adds another layer of disallowing).

On a spiritual level the doorway also represents a separation of two domains, and closing the door to the outside prevents the entry of (possibly) bad spiritual influence.

It seems to me that this why we need the protection of the mezuzah on our doorways and gateways, and also why specifically the name of Hashem, Shadd-ai is put on the outside, because this name signifies limiting - the name means that G-d said די (enough).

This is also why the job of opening and closing of the doors in the Beis Hamikdash was assigned to certain Levi'im, because it was not just a janitorial task but a very spiritual action.

If you read this parsha and the haftorah with this understanding in mind the various mentions of doors will make more sense.

I do know that one place which partially addresses this topic is the Arvei Nachal on parshas Vayeilech with reference to the entrance of the Tent of meeting, see here.

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I think in the Sdom story, it serves to emphasize that there's an angry, dangerous crowd outside and it's just barely safe inside.

In the Haftorah, Malbim and others point out that if we're asking G-d for a miracle, we attempt to make it as non-disruptive as possible, thus the fewer people who observe it the better. Hence miracles are done behind closed doors.

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