"And Jacob went out from Beer Sheba and went towards Haran"—Genesis 28:10.

The story of Jacob's life continues in this week's Torah portion. Jacob is fleeing from his brother Esau and is forced to leave behind the holy shelter of his father's home. He sets off for Haran, a place whose very name – literally "anger" in Hebrew – denotes that it was a place which evoked the wrath of G‑d. It was a place where selfishness and dishonesty were commonplace, and where people had no regard for each other's welfare. He now lived in an environment whose very nature was inhospitable to spirituality and high moral standards. Yet, Jacob was able to marry and raise his family there in a manner befitting his loftiest ideals. His twelve sons would become the forebears of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

If G‑d really wants us to do His will, why doesn't He make it easier for us?It is said that it was not despite his environment that Jacob was able to accomplish all of this—it was because of it. If he had remained in the safety of the Holy Land, he would not have had to overcome the obstacles that would elevate him and show him his purpose in life. Certainly Jacob would have preferred to remain in a place more conducive to his spiritual way of living. Yet, only by facing the challenges of a place which was opposed to spirituality, was he able to attain a level where he could actually fulfill his calling as the father of Israel. Coming to Haran was a necessary descent—for the sake of a subsequent greater ascent.

If G‑d really wants us to do His will, it's natural for us to wonder why He doesn't make it easier for us. If He expects us to have impeccable standards, why doesn't he remove all temptation from our path? If He wants us to stick to our values, why doesn't He protect us from spiritual peril?

The story of Jacob and his years spent away from home addresses the heart of these questions. In Haran it was easier to sin than to cling to virtue. Yet, it is precisely because Jacob remained committed to his ideals – even when exposed to such challenges – that he was able to build the House of Israel.

Obviously, we must never intentionally submit ourselves to a test of moral character. Indeed, we should pray that G‑d will steer us clear of temptation. When Divine Providence leads us into such a situation in life that makes it easy to rationalize doing the wrong thing, we need not fear. We must know that, without exception, we are brought to such a trial only in order to take us to a higher level.

Our recovery has empowered us so that we never blame circumstancesOur recovery has taught us to take personal responsibility for our own actions. It has empowered us so that we never blame circumstances. We are not circumstantial victims of fate, and we always have free choice when it comes to deciding to do what is right in G‑d's eyes.

We have also learned trust and acceptance. We know that G‑d can surely be relied upon to know what is good for us. If He places us in a situation that would seem to make it difficult to choose right over wrong, it is only because He considers us up to the task.

It has been said that life itself is a series of trials. Our very mission in life is to withstand such tests; we must embrace the fact that G‑d does not always make things easy for us. Most of us are tired of excuses, exhausted by self-justification and overwhelmed by our overactive minds. Whenever our commitment to spiritual principles wavers, our reflexive response is to blame people, places and things. However, the voice of conscience inside us always knows that there is nothing that can happen to us in sobriety that will ever take us away from our commitment to lofty principles.