Va’eira el Avraham, el Yitzchak v’el Yaakov — “And I revealed Myself to Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov,” Benny read and translated the pasuk.

“Now read the Rashi,” requested Rabbi Goldberg, the sixth-grade teacher.

‘Va’eira,’ says Rashi: ‘el haavos, to the forefathers,’“ Benny read. “But Rabbi Goldberg, this Rashi seems unnecessary. Everyone knows that Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov are our avos. Why is Rashi telling us this?”

“That’s a good question, Benny,” said Rabbi Goldberg. “Rashi is teaching us that HaShem was not just telling Moshe about the history of our people. HaShem is saying that the reason He revealed Himself to our forefathers was not only because they were very holy, but because they are our avos.

“And that means something very important for us. Let’s think. Remember what we learned in Mishnah class about the difference between purchasing and inheriting?”

“I know,” Naftali called out. “When a person buys something, he has to pay for it and take possession of it; only then does it become his. But an inheritance comes automatically. It passes straight from father to son.”

“That’s right,” continued Rabbi Goldberg. “HaShem is saying that He revealed Himself to the avos, and we inherit those revelations from them, because they are our fathers and we are their children.”

“But what do you mean by ‘we inherit those revelations’?” asked Tzvi. “We don’t see HaShem like the avos did.”

“You’re right,” answered Rabbi Goldberg. “Let’s try to understand what seeing HaShem meant to the avos. We know that Avraham, for example, believed in HaShem long before HaShem appeared to him, but seeing still made a difference. Tell us, Tzvi, what do you think the weather is like right now?”

“Cold,” answered Tzvi.

“Now look out the window.”

“It’s snowing,” observed Tzvi.

“Seeing the snow makes it clear to you that it’s cold. After you’ve seen the snow, nobody can convince you that it’s a nice spring day! In the same way, after the avos saw HaShem, their trust in Him was very strong. This is what we inherited from them — a belief and trust in HaShem as strong and clear as if we actually saw HaShem’s G‑dliness.”

“Rabbi Goldberg,” said Benny. “Now I understand why Rashi made his comment. But honestly, I don’t always feel such strong emunah. And you said this is an inheritance which comes to every one of us automatically.”

“I’m glad you’re being honest, Benny. The beginning of this parshah helps us understand. HaShem’s words are an answer to Moshe Rabbeinu’s question at the end of last week’s parshah: ‘Why did things get worse for the Jewish people?’ Moshe’s question teaches us that a person must think, question, and search for answers in order to strengthen his emunah.

“In the same way, all Jews have inherited this strong belief in HaShem, but we must open our minds and hearts to fill ourselves with this trust so that it can guide our lives.”

(Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVI, p. 52ff; Vol. XXXI p. 25ff)