"Please take out your chumashim," Morah Fine said to her students. The girls had just finished Parshas Noach and were eager to begin of Parshas Lech Lecha.
We are going to learn about Avraham Avinu," Morah Fine continued. "We were already introduced to Avraham and his family at the end of Parshas Noach. Now, let's begin Parshas Lech Lecha. HaShem commands Avraham to leave the place he was born and to travel to Eretz Yisrael."
"But what happened to all the rest of the stories?" Miriam called out in surprise. The puzzled students turned to look at her.
"What do you mean, Miriam?" asked Morah Fine. "Which stories?"
"I remember the story of Avraham discovering HaShem when he was only three years old. Our teacher taught us that in Pre 1A."
The class nodded at Miriam in agreement. Other girls raised their hands too. "And," asked Esty, "how about the time he broke his father's idols when he was taking care of his shop?"
"Or when Nimrod threw him into the furnace?" added Sheina. "Why doesn't the Torah begin teaching us about Avraham before the time HaShem tells him Lech Lecha?"
Morah Fine turned to Miriam with a smile. "Good for you, Miriam. Your question got the whole class thinking. Let me explain.
"Avraham Avinu believed in HaShem and dedicated his life to teaching others to do so too. Many things happened during his lifetime. The first story that the Torah tells us about Avraham teaches us the most important lesson we should learn from the way he served HaShem."
"But how does this story teach us any more than the other ones that happened before?" asked Miriam.
"There really is a difference between these stories and the others," replied Morah Fine. "You see, this is the first time that HaShem speaks directly to Avraham and commands him to do something. And Avraham does it immediately, believing in HaShem without question. In the other stories, Avraham does things on his own. He discovers HaShem, he breaks the idols, he chooses to be thrown into the furnace.
"The Torah is not just telling us stories. The Torah wants to teach us that a Jew should dedicate his life to listening to HaShem. So the first story about Avraham Avinu, the first Jew, is that HaShem tells him to do something and he does it.
"When a person does good deeds on his own, that is very important. But here the Torah is teaching us what it means to be a Jew: HaShem tells us what to do and we do it. This is exactly what Avraham did and Torah is teaching us to follow his example."
(Adapted from Sichos Shabbos Parshas Lech Lecha, 5752)