Famous Journeys

About to go on a little journey by horse around Cold Springs Historic Village
About to go on a little journey by horse around Cold Springs Historic Village

Can you think of any famous journeys? I asked some friends, and we came up with these:

  • Journey of the Children of Israel from Egypt through the desert to the Land of Israel
  • Travels of Christopher Columbus
  • Explorations of Magellan, Sir Francis Drake, Lewis and Clark
  • Donner Party
  • The band Journey
  • The Travels of Benjamin of Tudela
  • Man’s travel to the Moon
  • Other space expeditions, like the tragic Challenger trip
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth
  • Exodus by Leon Uris
  • Marco Polo, Jacques Cartier, Vasco de Gama, Captain Cook
  • Commute to New York City every day
  • Odysseus, Jason
  • Hegira, the flight of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina in 622 A.D
  • A Fantastic Voyage, The Fantastic Journey (I had to look these up)
  • Byrd, Peary, Scott and Amundsen: journey to the Poles
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder – journey through the places she lived in the U.S.
  • Dorothy’s journey to Oz (and back to Kansas)
  • Bilbo’s and Frodo’s journeys in Middle Earth
  • Finding parking in New Brunswick, New Jersey
  • On the Road, by Jack Kerouac
  • Midnight Ride of Paul Revere
  • After 1948 many Jews fled Muslim countries – most went to Israel, some to France and to the U.S.
  • Journey of the 12 spies into the Land of Canaan/Israel
  • Around the World in 80 Days, Jules Verne
  • Pilgrims travel to America (as did later many others from Europe and elsewhere)
  • Lady Godiva’s 11th century ride through Coventry to protest her husband’s excessive taxation of his subjects

In this week’s parsha of Lech Lecha, God tells Avram (he is not yet Avraham) to go forth from the land of his birth and travel to another land. According to the commentator Rashi, one is liable to lose three things by journeying: a trip can inhibit the birth of children, decrease one’s wealth and lessen one’s fame (lose one’s reputation). So God blesses Avram accordingly so he will have many children, wealth and he will become a great nation (fame).

So do any of the famous journeys we mention fit into the three categories mentioned by Rashi? As a loss or as a gain? Can you think of any other well-known journeys? Do people lose children, wealth or reputation on these journeys? Or do they gain them?

Last year I wrote about Oaks, Terebinths or Plains.
Ilana-Davita writes about a spiritual journey for man and an individual relationship between man and God.

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17 thoughts on “Famous Journeys

  • What a stimulating post. Well, Muhammed’s Hegira reminds me of Joni Mitchell’s Hejira album from the 70’s which I loved when I was in high school in the 90’s (I still enjoy listening to it now, but that’s probably because I stopped listening to “new” music around the time I made aliya). It definitely increased her wealth and fame, but the wealth and fame probably inhibited childbirth (I know she gave up a child, but I think that was before she made her first album, not sure).

    • Thank you – it was a bit of a stream of consciousness post – just to get the thinking going about what Rashi says and about the journey of Avram as directed by God. And in general about journeys.

      Fame in general doesn’t lend itself well to being a good parent, although one could probably think of some famous good parents.

    • Sounds good to me! He did get famous from that ride, and I understand he was already wealthy. Probably didn’t effect his parenting, but if he had gotten caught by the British, history might have changed.

  • The mention of the hegira made me think of Mohammed’s ‘night journey’ to Jerusalem and on to Heaven.

    Jewish journeys include the exile to Babylon and the return to Israel in the book of Ezra (I think in several waves) and the various major Aliyot of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. There is also Ruth’s journey from Moab to Israel (and to Judaism) and Yaakov’s journey to Aram and back and then to Egypt with his family, preceeded by Yosef.

    The Sanhedrin used to send messagers to Babylon to tell them it was Rosh Chodesh, before the Romans (I think) started imprisoning the messagers.

    The Medieval Jewish expulsions, of which the expulsion from Spain in 1492 is the most famous, precipitated many journeys.

    • Great list, Daniel.

      I wonder if any of these Jewish journeys can be related to Rashi’s comments on the pasuk on Avram’s journey. Certainly, expulsion from Spain meant loss of wealth and less chance of childbearing, though the childbearing probably caught up again once the Jews resettled in new countries.

  • What a thoughtful and thought-provoking post. Two journeys of my own (non-Jewish) ancestors included Lady Godiva’s 11th century ride through Coventry to protest her husband’s excessive taxation of his subjects, and that of the Pilgrims, first to Leiden and later across the Atlantic to Plymouth in 1620.

    I fell in love with journeys reading The Lord of the Rings. It inspired my own solo travels through Asia and Europe after college.

  • I don’t usually read novels but I really liked “Around the World in 80 Days” and fortunately they made a movie based on it and it starred Jackie Chan…

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