from Rabbi Michalowicz…

We are introduced to Avraham in this Parsha. In this and the next Parsha, Avraham goes through his Ten Tests. Initially, when G-d tells Avraham to leave his birthplace, he goes to the land of Canaan. In chapter 12, verse 6, we are told: “And Avraham passed into the land, until the place of Shechem, until Elon Moreh – and the Canaanites were still living in the land.” This is just one example in which the Torah is giving us seemingly unimportant details about the story of the Patriarchs. Does it really matter in which towns Avraham stopped along his way?

What matters is the Ten Tests he underwent. Why does the Torah insert these details? The Ramban answers: “Ma’asei Avot Siman laBanim” – All events that happen to our Patriarchs can help their descendants. So why do we need to know details about Avraham? The answer is that if we want to be kind people, we can’t just do what our hearts (our emotions) tell us to do. Avraham methodically built up and perfected the trait of kindness, and if we want to access that information, we have to learn how Avraham acted. By delving into his deeds we will be able to tap into the trait of kindness. The same applies to Yitzchak, who developed the trait of self-control, and Yaakov, who perfected the attribute of mercy. If we look at the Patriarchs, we will be able to understand our spiritual potential are and how to cultivate that spiritual potential.