Ma’aseh Avot, Siman L’Banim

My goal in creating this blog begins with but extends well beyond an attempt to bring the stories, events and lessons of the Torah to life. B’ezrat Hashem, with at least one entry per week, I intend to provide an explanation of a particular Biblical event from that week’s Parsha, what lesson(s) can be drawn from it and how it is relevant and applicable to Jewish life and the world we live in today. I hope to demonstrate the eternal relevance of the Torah, by showing how the lessons drawn from it apply at all times, for all individuals as well as for the entire Jewish nation.

Over the course of this blog, it will become obvious that I hold as a foundational premise that events in the Torah served as ‘prototypes’ or ‘templates’ as it were for future events destined to occur throughout Jewish history. It is therefore also my intention, through this blog to present the argument and demonstrate as conclusively as possible the existence of patterns throughout Jewish history and how major events and themes repeat themselves over and over again in different time periods and in different ways.

It is my hope that reading this blog will lead to an appreciation of how the events and/or lessons from the weekly Torah portion shed light on, place into context and provide us with the proper perspective to more fully understand the big picture of Jewish history. I further hope that this blog as well as your feedback to it, all of which is warmly welcomed and appreciated, will bring us to a new and deeper understanding of major current events and the extraordinary significance they hold for both the individual Jew and all of Am Yisrael.

Additionally, for those of us living in Israel, I hope this blog makes a small contribution towards our responsibility to develop a constant appreciation that we have been given the privilege of having a front row seat and opportunity to share an active role in the unfolding story of Jewish history. For those still living in galut (the Jewish diaspora, literally exile), I hope this blog provides a bit of inspiration towards recognizing our duty to make aliyah, particularly in light of the historical significance of the State of Israel in today’s world.

So, why did I choose “Maaseh Avot Siman L’banim” as the title of this blog? In its most literal translation, it means “the deeds of the forefathers are a sign for the children.” The more commonly cited take on this expression is that of the Radak who explains it as being the principle that the actions of our ancestors are imbued with moral lessons and behavioral guidelines for the benefit of all subsequent generations. For our purposes, however, I will be focusing on the interpretation of the Ramban, who while agreeing with the Radak’s understanding of this principle, takes it to a deeper level, viewing the events recorded in the Torah as a microcosm and blueprint for all of Jewish, and indeed world history to follow.

The truth of this principle is borne out in an examination of the patterns and repetitious nature of Jewish history right up to the present day. It is up to each of us to decide whether to accept or to hide from the lessons of our past. And it is that decision, which will shape our understanding of reality, current events and the world around us.

You will find that I often direct my attention to the connection between the Parsha and day-to-day life in Israel. You will also find that I am not afraid to give you an uncensored and very real perspective of what life is like for an American immigrant living in Israel. I want this blog to be inspiring, but I also want it to be real. Life in Israel is not easy nor is it always pretty and there is no better place to begin than by examining this weeks’ Torah portion, Parshat Lech Lecha, which opens with the physical and spiritual journey of the first of all first generation immigrants to the Land of Israel.


About the Author
Mike Kavitsky made aliya from the United States in 2005. He is married and has four small children.