I came across a fascinating Tanna D'Vei Eliyahu Rabbah (12:1) which states:

וכל האומר לא אכלו מלאכי השרת עם אברהם אע"ה לא אמר כלום אלא בצדקתו של אותו צדיק ובשכר טורח שטרח בשבילם פתח להם הקב"ה את פיהם ואכלו ולכך נאמר והוא עומד עליהם תחת העץ ויאכלו

And all who say that the ministering angels did not eat with Avraham is talking nonsense (lit. nothingness), rather due to the righteousness of the Tzaddik (i.e. Avraham) and the reward for all the effort/bother he expended, Hashem opened their mouths and they ate. Therefore it says, "And he stood over them under the tree and they ate."

So it would seem that ordinarily angels do not eat and it was only because of the fact that they were in a tzaddik's presence, that Hashem made them eat.

This all makes perfect sense....

However, when we get to the episode with Lot and his hosting of the malachim, the pasuk in Bereishis 19:3 writes:

וַיִּפְצַר־בָּ֣ם מְאֹ֔ד וַיָּסֻ֣רוּ אֵלָ֔יו וַיָּבֹ֖אוּ אֶל־בֵּית֑וֹ וַיַּ֤עַשׂ לָהֶם֙ מִשְׁתֶּ֔ה וּמַצּ֥וֹת אָפָ֖ה וַיֹּאכֵֽלוּ׃

But he urged them strongly, so they turned his way and entered his house. He prepared a feast for them and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

So how come in this instance they ate? Lot was not exactly a tzaddik1 - How come with him they ate too?

I haven't seen any sources that say that they didn't really eat. In fact, Rabbeinu Bachya and the Ohr HaChaim both contrast their eating with Lot and Avraham by noting how they specifically ate bread/matzos by Lot as opposed to meat like in the case of Avraham - but they still ate?!

1 Refer to Bereishis Rabbah 41:7 which interprets the words "וַיִּשָֹּׂא לוֹט אֶת עֵינָיו וַיַּרְא אֶת כָּל כִּכַּר הַיַּרְדֵּן" - "And Lot lifted up his eyes and he saw the entire plain of the Jordan" (Bereishis 13:10) as a reference to immorality, and that he settled there despite looking at many other cities as he found it the most attractive option. Or, alternatively note the Midrash Tanchuma Buber Edition - Vayeira 21:4 that says out of the five jusdges in Sodom, Lot was the most wicked.

  • Maybe they were really hungry by the time they reached Sodom. Long walk, you know... ;) Actually, it occurs to me now that maybe that act of Hashem opening their mouths to eat somehow kept them in a state of being more physical until their mission was over (post destruction of Sodom).
    – Harel13
    Nov 6, 2020 at 9:36
  • I hear - but why would Hashem need to 'give' them food to make them more 'physical'?
    – Dov
    Nov 6, 2020 at 9:45
  • Maybe it's not a need but a consequence? The first eating was "needed" to respect Avraham. The ensuing physicality was a consequence?
    – Harel13
    Nov 6, 2020 at 9:52
  • I would assume the default is they didn't really eat. This midrash is innovating by Avraham that they really are. I don't see why that carries over to Lot
    – robev
    Nov 6, 2020 at 10:49
  • Thanks @Robev - Possibly the beginnings of an answer by the Radak - sefaria.org/…
    – Dov
    Nov 6, 2020 at 11:04

2 Answers 2


Harav Yaakov Chaim Goldwicht ztsl (אסופת מערכת פרשת וירא) has a long essay in which he explains the power of a person's holy thoughts as he is doing an act. Just like the thoughts of the one who spins wool for the sake of tzitzis, "elevates" the threads in a way that they may now no longer be used for ordinary uses, and like preparing the hide of an animal for the sake of a Sefer Torah "elevates" ordinary skin into קלף with its inherent קדושת ספר תורה, so too the thoughts of Abraham and Sarah into the kneading of the dough and the preparation of the food, elevated the food into a "spiritual food" not unlike the מן, which the angels could actually eat. But that indeed does not explain how a person like לוט, despite his "greatness" whilst living in סדום as mentioned earlier, could cook food with the same lofty thoughts.

  • Interesting! Thank you
    – Dov
    Nov 10, 2020 at 19:33

While this is a contrast to Avraham, whose whole family took part, Rav Hirsch points out that Lot did behave as he had learned from Avraham.

Even in his own house he stands alone with that he had learnt from Abraham.

However the fact that he rose above everyone else does show a merit on his part. Indeed, his daughters thought that everyone else in the world had died (like Noach). Vayeira 20:31

Medrash Tanchuma asks that question.

וּמַצּוֹת אָפָה וַיֹּאכֵלוּ – וַהֲלֹא אֵין אֲכִילָה לְמַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת. אֶלָּא לְלַמֶּדְךָ דֶּרֶךְ אֶרֶץ, שֶׁלֹּא יְשַׁנֶּה אָדָם מִמִּנְהַג הַמְּדִינָה. אַתָּה לָמֵד מִמֹּשֶׁה, שֶׁהֲרֵי מֹשֶׁה שֶׁעָלָה לַמָּרוֹם כְּתִיב בּוֹ, וַיְהִי שָׁם עִם י״י אַרְבָּעִים יוֹם וְאַרְבָּעִים לַיְלָה לֶחֶם לֹא אָכַל וּמַיִם לֹא שָׁתָה (שמות ל״ד:כ״ח). אִלְמָלֵי הָיָה שָׁם אֲכִילָה וּשְׁתִיָּה, הָיָה אוֹכֵל וְשׁוֹתֶה, הַמַּלְאָכִים שֶׁבָּאוּ לְבַקֵּר אֶת אַבְרָהָם וְשֶׁבָּאוּ לְשַׁחֵת אֶת סְדוֹם וּלְהַצִּיל אֶת לוֹט, כְּתִיב בָּהֶן וַיַּעַשׂ לָהֶם מִשְׁתֶּה וּמַצּוֹת אָפָה וַיֹּאכֵלוּ.

The malachei hashareis do not eat. However this teaches that a person should not change the custom of a location. Moshe went to the heavens and it is written there, He was there with the Lord for forty days and forty nights; he ate no bread and drank no water. (Shmos 34:28) Since this was a place where one eats and drinks, they would eat and drink, The malachim that came to visit Avraham and to destroy S'dom and to save Lot, it is written and he made them a feast, and he baked unleavened cakes, and they ate.

Or Hachaim says that they only ate the matzos while with Avraham they also ate the meat which was the equivalent of a korbon for Hashem because Lot did not keep the Torah like Avraham.


and there is no man on earth: They thought that the entire world had been destroyed, as in the Generation of the Flood (Gen. Rabbah 51:8).

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