For forty years the Children of Israel traveled in the desert. Now, as they stood on the threshold of the Promised Land, the Torah recounts the stops they made during their journey. Over 40 locations are mentioned in the review of their itinerary. What is strange about this sequence is that in each case the usually terse Torah states the place from which they left and then the place at which they camped. Then it repeats the place at which they camped and states the new location of their camp. Why the redundant style. Of course they left from the last place where they last camped – why repeat it?
In a fast paced world people have become accustomed to run for their new goal while never looking back to their past. One may rush from task to task without any reference to a previous activity. The Torah wants us to know that every action has its ramifications and that no achievement hatched without the groundwork being laid by a preparatory deed.
This is one of the interpretations of “Maaseh abot siman la banim”– the actions of the fathers are a portend for the children. Upon his arrival in the Holy Land Abraham Abinu traveled from place to place criss-crossing the land from border to border. Rashi elucidates the reasons for the specific places mentioned in the Torah. Each had significance in the success or failure of the children of Abraham even hundreds of years later. He knew that his actions were not limited to a specific time frame and that they could affect the success of his offspring in the future conquest and settlement of the Land of Canaan.
What Abraham knew is important to every one of us. What one does has significance for many years and many generations into the future. As a matter of fact one’s deeds are not finite but eternal. What you do today will affect your status for eternity. It will not only affect you and your offspring but it can also influence the future of many others. It will not only count in the conduct of this world but it will also be important to the realities in the next world. Nothing one does is isolated. It is part of a chain that extends from the moment of performance into eternity. Consider it well and do your best- you don’t know what it will affect but you can be sure that it will. Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Raymond Beyda and Torah.org.