G-d has told Avram and Sarai (their names haven't been changed yet) to travel to the land of Canaan. The Torah then gives us the details of their journey into the land of Canaan. Avram goes to Schem (today Nablus). G-d then promises to Avram that his descendants will be given the land. Avram builds his alter to G-d then moves on to pitch his tent between Beit-El and Ai. He then goes down to Egypt with Sarai because of a famine in the land.
If every letter and word in the Torah is significant, why does G-d bother to go through a whole detailed description of where Avram, Sarai and their group traveled? Why is this information we need to know?
The Ramban states a principle that we are supposed to learn from our patriarchs and matriarchs. This is a concept called: Ma'aseh Avos, Siman L'Banim - The actions of the fathers are a sign to the children. We learn from Avram and Sarai's actions that they were preparing for the future of the Jewish People.
Avram stopped in Schem to pray for the future battle between Jacob's sons and Schem (the leader of that city)... Avram also stopped to camp in Ai, one of the first cities to be conquered by Joshua. And of course we know all about the Children of Israel enslaved in Egypt.
What can we learn from this principle of Ma'aseh Avos, Siman L'Banim? We can see this when parenting children. Children watch everything that their parents do and say.
We have to ask:
* How is conflict resolved in the home? Is it through quiet discussion or yelling and screaming?
* Do both parents speak with the same voice? Do the parents override each others opinion when a child asks something of them?
* Are both parents expressing the same values to their children?
* Are the parents consistent with the rules of the house? Consistent with reward and punishment?
* How is Judaism being portrayed in the house? Is it an annoyance or something to be enjoyed?
All of these things are very important to keep in mind. Parents have been entrusted with young minds to guide and mold in the right way. Keep away from - do as I say, not as I do. Children watch and emulate even the smallest action. Even what parents may consider insignificant. What are your actions that are signs for your children?
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