Are you "on a journey - tiyul"? Well, I grew up being and living with most Displaced Persons. The "way" was from East-Europe to West-Europe, then North America, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand. World War I inaugurated a long-term period of human flows or transfers of flocks, redesigning precarious borders.
Queen Victoria was still sending some colonizers paid on her own expenses and for the sake of the Crown to Australia: hooligans, released murderers and street women rose up the level of London cockney to the rank of a new Hollywood dialect at the turn of the 20th century. And suddenly Greek, Bulgarian, together with the first Russian immigrants arrived by steamers. By the same time, Shalom Aleichem described in a short novel "Blondzhdike shterne - Sparkling stars" how any Jew originating from any normal shtetl (small village) would so nicely feel at home in the London East End: no need to speak English, but just move the hands; "dos machen mit di hent - by using their hands expressively". Some nations seem today very cozy and well-settled, as if they had cultivated their green lawn for over more than two thousand years. We have our modern barbarians who cut their greens.
In a cute Dutch village by Nijmegen, nobody is seen in the street during the heat of the day. . . except that most gossip women know everything "online" looking at their "spiegeltjes - little side mirrors" and inform their tribe through SMS or cellular calls. Nations sank into the oblivious unconsciousness of low-gear memories. Modernity meets with gossip, chatting and apparent stiffness. No, people have always been on the move. I wonder if this is not due, to some extent, to the fact that the planet does rotate and pursues a difficult pilgrimage through history. Stability and fixity are rather a part of a myth. Life has often been too short or reduced by the hands of conquerors. Still, Jewish eyes flicker at Pesach and remove bad and evil: the chametz, leaven of pride: "Next year in "ara de'Israel= in the Land of Israel"- "chulem oder emes? - a dream or a reality?". The Tel Aviv Beyt Hatfutzot (Museum of the Diasporas) is definitely a unique and insightful place for a coherent understanding of humans, in particular the Jews en voyage to themselves along God's paths ("My plans are not your plans, nor My ways your ways says the Lord/so is the word that issues from My mouth: it does not come to Me unfilled", Isaiah 55:8-12).
What is your real trip for Pesach 5768? What is your journey through these seven days of different daily bread? Jews have a sort of creative inability to settle somewhere or not to move from time to time. When the Temple was existent, the Klal Israel - Community of Israel rapidly developed a system of free but rather obligatory pilgrimage to Jerusalem, to the Temple in order to offer the korbanot/prescribed sacrifices. This allowed to prohibit the other sites that did not focus on the Lord/HaShem alone, especially in the North. Shalosh regalim: i.e. three footings up to the Holy of Holies (Devir). As in English "foot-step" it is a move of ascent that also corresponds to a way of living, moral or spiritual conducts or actions. Of course, it is wiser to translate "regalim" by "pilgrimages"; but it sounds a bit bizarre. Pilgrimages mean that pilgrims (from O. Fr. Pelegrin = go "beyond the fields (acres) that are outside, foreign and enter a new place).In Hebrew, "regalim" comes from regel = leg". We walk on foot, beregel even if some wealthy people would arrive on Dutch bikes, in buses, soon by trains and other by private jets and Mercedes. Firstly, this kind of expedition for Pesach, Shavuot (Pentecost/Giving of the Torah) and Sukkot (Tabernacles) requires a strong a diet a reconnect with a soulful nomadic Semitic spirit (The "wandering Aramean" syndrome depicted in Bemidbar 26:5). "On foot is on foot"; we have all kinds of wonderful sandals, very solid and comfy. We can also walk bare-foot, somehow a bit titillating for the toes... "Shirey hama'alot - are the songs or ascents, Tehillim,120-134, some being read during the Lenten Liturgies in the Orthodox Church).
"Regalim" has more. They are "r'gel davar = the basics of a reason" (Talmud Nazir 9:3). Thus, the three pilgrimages of ascents to Jerusalem and the Temple as commanded in Exodus 23:14."Hirgil" = to make accustomed/ to flay an animal from its feet upwards "for the purpose of levitical cleanness" (Hullin9:3). "Rigel - to spy". But, "The 1st of Nissan is the new year for the oley regel (those who go up on foot)" (Rosh Hashanah 16b). There is a concept of climbing, going up. It may be a slow process, take time. The French Saint Therese of Lisieux, having seen one of the first elevators during her pilgrimage to Rome, declared she would love to get to God by elevator! This year, there is a huge rush of Russian pilgrims for Passcha/Easter on April 27th. Interesting how the locals forgot that crowds used to arrive in the Holy Land before the Russian Revolution. It only starts and should develop with the visit of the Chinese some day... And we! The survivors... and every human is a survivor someway? Do we feel how light and swift, bar-mitzvah-like we are after 3.000 years that we try to summarize and build up a State in (more than) 60 years? The others know, so there is only one thing to say: "Next year...". Todah al hasavlanut, thanks for being patient... G-d.
Ascending is a spiritual exploit. Tradition can cope with modern utensils. Old leavened chametz complies us to clean, lighten, unburden just as "not to judge our brothers" (Mar Ephrem).
Alexander Winogradsky Frenkel
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April 15, 2008 - 10 deNissan 5768