Lot raised his eyes and saw the entire plain of the Jordan that it was well-watered everywhere…like the garden of Hashem…So Lot chose for himself the whole plain… (Genesis 13:10-11)
Based on this verse, it appears that the reason Lot selected Sodom as his new home was because of its aesthetic beauty and material prosperity.
However, Rashi -- the classic medieval Torah commentator -- cites the Midrashim that indicate that Lot chose Sodom as his neighborhood because the city’s inhabitants were steeped in lewdness!
This is obviously a different message than conveyed by the plain verse. So how do these two explanations for Lot’s behavior fit together?
Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky, ZTL gives an explanation which is based upon a profound psychological insight.
Human behavior is often motivated by many different feelings, emotions, and agendas that are at play at the same time. In fact, oftentimes a person is himself unaware of all that is motivating him to think a particular way or choose a certain course of action.
This is what was happening with Lot.
Yes, he certainly believed that he favored Sodom for its physical prosperity and for economic opportunity (as the verse indicates).
However, deep down, he was drawn to Sodom because it would afford him an outlet and opportunity to engage in illicit and miscreant sexual behavior!
Sadly, Lot’s true colors shine through later on, as the Torah informs us that he knowingly and willingly committed incest with one of his daughters (see Genesis Ch. 19).
What emerges from here is that each of us must be extremely careful to unpeel the layers of our hidden motivations and know ourselves well.
Experience shows that such a lofty level of self-awareness is essentially impossible to attain without committing oneself to a dedicated regimen of Mussar study (the Torah's ethical, personality, and self-development materials).