“Please take out your books,” Mrs. Fine said to her students. The girls had just finished learning the Torah portion of Noah and were eager to begin the next portion.

"We are going to learn about our forefather Abraham,” Mrs. Fine continued. “We were already introduced to Abraham and his family at the end of Noah. Now, let’s begin the next portion. G‑d commands Abraham to leave the place he was born and to travel to the land of Israel.”

“But what happened to all the rest of the stories?” Yael called out in surprise. The puzzled students turned to look at her.

“What do you mean, Yael?” asked Mrs.  Fine. “Which stories?”

“I remember the story of Abraham discovering G‑d when he was only three years old. Our teacher taught us that in kindergarten.”

The class nodded at Yael 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 Abraham before the time G‑d tells him 'lech lecha'?”

Mrs. Fine turned to Yael with a smile. “Good for you, Yael. Your question got the whole class thinking. Let me explain.

“Abraham believed in G‑d 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 Abraham teaches us the most important lesson we should learn from the way he served G‑d.”

“But how does this story teach us any more than the other ones that happened before?” asked Yael.

“There really is a difference between these stories and the others,” replied Mrs. Fine. “You see, this is the first time that G‑d speaks directly to Abraham and commands him to do something. And Abraham does it immediately, believing in G‑d without question. In the other stories, Abraham does things on his own. He discovers G‑d, he breaks the idols, and 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 G‑d. So the first story about Abraham, the first Jew, is that G‑d tells him to do something and he does it.”