The first word of the second verse of this week’s sidra gives it its title: “Va’era” ,meaning “And I appeared – to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob”. And Rashi gives the explanation: “’And I appeared’, means ‘to the patriarchs”. But this is obvious from the text, so why does Rashi need to state it?

Rabbi Meir of Premishlan (1703–1773) explains that Rashi is pointing out that it would have been sufficient if the verse had stated, “I appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”. Yet in the Torah’s Hebrew text, the proposition to is added to each of their names. It teaches us that the greatness of Isaac and Jacob did not stem from their being the son and grandson of Abraham – “the father of nations” – but because, as with Abraham, both were worthy in their own merit of G-d revealing Himself to each of them.

Today this teaches us that however great or distinguished our parents and antecedents, we should strive to make an independent name for ourselves, rather than relying on yichus (pedigree).