Answer: If we look at this quality per se, it is seemingly meant to protect the society by establishing a strict order in it: Everyone takes care of oneself and their family without stepping out of the acceptable norms. There is something quite rational in this, and it’s not easy to achieve this state.
The rules of life in Sodom are very simple: “Mine is mine, yours is yours,” “Don’t touch me, and I won’t hurt you.” It is prohibited to lend, and it is not allowed to borrow. Everyone lives according to the effort they exert: What you earned is all yours.
We will kill the thieves, destroy the liars; anyone who helps another spoils him since charity leads to laziness and lies as a person now always wants to receive and stops working. In this sense, our world is worse than Sodom!
The property of Sodom means that I don’t envy anybody: I have what I am entitled to, and you have what you deserve. This life philosophy is unique and complex! We use this word to scold, but we haven’t even come close to it.
The attribute of Sodom is negative not per se but in relation to the Land of Israel, the desire to attain love of others, the quality of Abraham. On this path, Sodom halts a person, but in itself, this approach is quite useful for the will to receive.
If we don’t transition to the desire to bestow, then the level of Sodom represents the most favorable relations in the society: Don’t give anything to anyone and don’t receive anything from them! This is a healthy attitude to the will to receive: If you are entitled to something, live, and if not, die. After all, anything received beyond necessity harms our will to receive since through luxuries it gets accustomed to using others, which harms it.
The residents of Sodom understood that they shouldn’t indulge in the will to receive. You receive according to the exerted effort, as it is said, “The measure of suffering determines the measure of reward.” So, what is wrong with that?
Hence, it is difficult for Abraham to part with Lot, and their relationship lasts a long time. And only when Abraham sees the need to advance so as to turn Sodom (the land of Canaan) into the Land of Israel in the future, he revolts and switches the positions of the will to receive and the will to bestow in terms of their importance. This is described as an earthquake in Sodom.
It is a very serious decision of a person who feels the need to change his attitude to egoism. Having made this decision, a person truly becomes free.
From the Lesson on Weekly Torah Portion 10/15/10