In the middle of negotiating with God about the fate of Sodom, Abraham says: Here, pray, I have presumed to speak to my Lord when I am but dust and ashes. Abraham was not only being humble. He was telling God, explains R. Shmuel of Slonim, that he was but dust and ashes and God still drew him near. Therefore, what real difference was there between him and the people of Sodom – didn’t they also deserve a measure of mercy. The righteous are not self-righteous.