וַיִּשְׁמַע אַבְרָם, כִּי נִשְׁבָּה אָחִיו; וַיָּרֶק אֶת-חֲנִיכָיו יְלִידֵי בֵיתוֹ, שְׁמֹנָה עָשָׂר וּשְׁלֹשׁ מֵאוֹת, וַיִּרְדֹּף, עַד-דָּן. (בְּרֵאשִׁית יד:יד)
And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued as far as Dan. (Bereishis 14:14)
The Pele Yoetz explains that many times people are really, truly good, but they get caught up in some kind of a mindset that enables the yetzer hara to take control of them. It is the obligation of their friends and relatives to try to pull that person out of his predicament.
Lot learned many positive life lessons from Avraham Avinu, yet his lust for money consumed him until he moved to the wealthy city of Sodom, where he was later captured in the war. Avraham Avinu went to save Lot, not only from his physical imprisonment, but also from his spiritual captivity, which was a result of his lust for money. This is shown in the pasuk as follows:
כִּי נִשְׁבָּה אָחִיו-his brother was taken captive
וַיָּרֶק אֶת-חֲנִיכָיו-he took together all his faculties (for service of Hashem)
שְׁמֹנָה עָשָׂר וּשְׁלֹשׁ מֵאוֹת-318
The number 318 is the same as the gematria of the word siach. How did Avraham try to get Lot away from the clutches of the yetzer hara? Through dialogue. (One could imagine Avraham saying to Lot as he was taking him out of prison cell “Do you see all the problems this love of money have caused you?!”)
Many times a person needs a “wake up call” from a friend or relative in order to realize where he really is and how far he is removed from his real ideals. Though Avraham was certainly concerned about Lot’s physical predicament, the Pele Yoetz tells us that he was more concerned about Lot’s ruchnius. Many times we have a choice to help somebody out in a physical way, which is indeed a great chesed. Yet the ultimate chesed is to free him from his spiritual captivity.