Although Lot has chosen a different path from that of Avraham, he continues to display some of the values he absorbed from his uncle and mentor. When he separated from Avraham because of a territorial dispute, Rashi says that Lot adopted the attitude “I desire neither Avraham nor his G-d.” Nonetheless,
(MISHTEH), and unleavened bread he baked (UMATZOT AFAH), and they ate (Bereishit Ch. 19).
He does all this at his own peril, because welcoming guests in Sedom is an act of treachery, punishable by death. Perhaps this explains why Lot - unlike Avraham (see above, 18:2-8) - does not involve any other members of his household, so as not to make them “accomplices” in his forbidden act of kindness.
Ramban commends Lot for his hospitality, arguing that the angels initially refused in order to increase his merit when they would later acquiesce. And, although Lot’s feast is not as lavish as Avraham’s, it is welcome.
Rashi notes that Lot served his guests matzot, leading Rashi to conclude, “It was Pesach.”
This is in keeping with the well-known concept that the Patriarchs kept all the commandments (Bereishit Rabbah 95:2). It seems that Lot had learned to observe Pesach when he had lived with Avraham, and he continues to do so even after they had separated, and in Sedom at that!
Rashi here (and on 18:10) follows the view, expressed in a number of midrashim (Bereishit Rabbah 48:13; end of sec. 50), that all the events of the first part of Vayeira - Avraham’s welcoming the three angels, the visit of two of the angels to Lot and the destruction of Sedom-all occur during Pesach. Tosefot (Rosh Hashanah 11a) further quotes from the piyyut (liturgical poem) composed by Meir ben-Yitzchak Shaliach Tzibbur (11th Cent.) for the Evening service of Pesach, that Lot served his guests matzot on Pesach.
However, other midrashim - and the Talmud (ibid.) - follow a different calculation, saying that these events occur around Sukkot. According to this, Lot served his guests matzot for practical, rather than ritual, reasons, as explained by Radak (R. David Kimchi, c. 1160-c. 1235):
Since Radak’s interpretation is so sensible, and in keeping with the view of the Talmud, why does Rashi follow the view of the other midrashim, stating bluntly that “It was Pesach,” against the view of the Talmud?
Perhaps we can answer this with reference to a principle of Biblical grammar which Rashi has developed elsewhere (see Bereishit 4:1, 19:24, and 21:1; and Bava Kama 92a).
Usually, in Biblical narrative, an event in the past is expressed using the future tense preceded by the letter-vowel combination vav-patach. This prefix is known as the vav ha-hippuch, or “vav of reversal”; because it connotes a sequence of events in the past, some Biblical scholars call it the “vav-consecutive.” At times, however, the event is recounted using the past tense verb. Then, says Rashi, the connotation is past perfect; in other words, it means that the event occurred before the one just mentioned. So, for example, Rashi translates the verses cited above as follows:
And the man had known his wife Chavah . . . (Bereishit 4:1).
And Hashem had made it rain upon Sedom and on Amorah sulphur and fire . . . (19:24).
And Hashem had remembered Sarha . . . (21:1).
Perhaps that is what Rashi sees in our verse, as well. Lot may have hurriedly put together a light meal for his guests, but, as for the bread, UMATZOT AFAH - which is written using the past tense verb, with the connotation of the past perfect-and unleavened bread he had baked. Lot does not prepare matzot now (which he might do at any time of the year, to save time). He had matzot already made in the house, because it was Pesach!
(Onkelos does not agree with this reading, because he translates UMATZOT AFAH - and unleavened bread he baked for them. Perhaps this is because, wherever Rashi understands the verb in the past perfect, the subject precedes the verb, while here the subject is not stated.)
Lot has proved himself a disciple of Avraham on so many levels. He practices hachnasat orchim (hospitality) and he bakes matzot for Pesach. He has embraced both the bein adam la’chavero (between man and fellow-man) and the bein adam la’Makom (between man and G-d) messages of the Torah.
Yet, Lot offers his daughters to the mob in order to protect his guests (19:7-8)! He shows himself more as a disciple of Sedom than of Avraham.
Tragically, Lot has learned only selectively and superficially from Avraham. The true values of Torah are all-embracing, pervading the entire personality.