Life is a Journey
For me, travel is a metaphor for Jewish Living. Whether we’ve lived in ten cities and toured the African and Asian Continents coast to coast, or whether we’ve spent our entire life in one city or country, we are still on a journey. Not merely a journey with a small “j”, but rather a “Life Journey” – from “This World” to “The World to Come”, and as they say, “Life is a journey, not a destination”.
Seeing Life as a Journey has significance even on the practical level, as one can see in the following story about the Chofetz Chaim:
The Chofetz Chaim lived a very simple and minimalistic lifestyle. Until he was quite old, the floor in his house wasn’t even tiled. The table was not much more than a wooden plank, and instead of chairs there were just some plain benches. Once, a rich Jew visited the revered tzaddik to receive his blessing. As he entered the simple dwelling, he glanced around and saw the plain furnishings. He was shocked to see this eminent and revered personage living under such impoverished circumstances.
“Rabbi,” he asked, “how can you live under such conditions? Where is the courtly furniture that befits a person of your stature?”
Smiling gently, the Chofetz Chaim responded by asking a question of his own: “Tell me, where are you staying during your visit here?”
“In the village inn, of course! Where else?”
“I don’t understand,” replied the Chofetz Chaim, “You are quite wealthy, and must be used to only the best. That inn has only some old broken-down benches. It must be very uncomfortable for you there. Why didn’t you bring all of your beautiful furnishings with you?”
“Bring them with me? That’s absurd. When a person is traveling, he can’t take along everything he owns. Most of his possessions remain at home. He understands that his journey is only temporary, and he lives much more simply.”
“That sounds very reasonable,” said the Chofetz Chaim – “and now you have the answer to your question. My time in this world is only temporary. I am only passing through on a journey to my ultimate destination. Therefore, I live very simply.” (from the book “Trust Me” by Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff)
Of course the Chofetz Chaim was a Sage and a uniquely spiritual person and most of us would find it impossible to emulate his austere lifestyle. Nevertheless, I believe that at the very least one can travel with minimal luggage, even if one can’t live that way all year-long.
There are many practical benefits to packing light:
- Security – Less to lose or get stolen.
- Economy – no extra luggage fees, no porters and you can walk or take a bus instead of only taxis.
- Mobility – Later check-in, earlier check-out.
- Serenity – Less time to pack, less stress, less to sweat.
- Spirituality – Less dependency on material possessions.
My favorite website for packing light is Doug Dyment‘s site called OneBag.com. The entire site is devoted to learning how to travel with one carry-on bag only and according to very clearly defined packing-lists. That’s it. Nothing else.
I guess that an observant Jew would have a few more things to carry, like a Talis & Tefillin for men, Shabbat clothes, a wig or head-covering for woman, some Kosher food or utensils, a book of Torah study. Yet I’m sure that even with our EXTRA stuff, we can still fit it all into one bag (and certainly in LESS bags than we’re used to).
YouTube has many good videos on the OneBag system. I recommend looking up also “Round The World” or “RTW” packing for men or for woman (different packing needs of course). OneBag even suggests a few versatile types of bags with lots of pockets which support the OneBag system.
Here’s a short video about the Red Oxx Air Boss bag and an extremely efficient packing system:
Next time you travel, remember: