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Haftarah: Machar Chodesh: Beyond By on


The Great Adventure


Those of you kind enough to read “The Squabble,” will know that my Time Machine is approaching its seventh decade, presuming my father gave me what was at the time, the newest model. Alas, we have to make frequent stops to recharge, although I do enjoy the opportunity to meet other time travelers.

At a recent stop, I met a John Muir fan, who was, shockingly,  more impressed with Muir’s work than with Bible stories. 

As I’m sure you know, it takes quite a while to recharge a Time Machine, so, I used the time to review the weekly Torah portion, Vayeitzei and was studying Jacob’s visit to the top of Mt. Moriah, the place of his grandfather’s, Avraham, and his father’s, Yitzchak, great spiritual achievement at the Binding of Isaac. In fact, I was headed there with a few stops planned to pick up Nachmanides and Rabbi Eliezer the Great.

The Muir fan, peaking over my shoulder at my travel map, snickered, quite obnoxiously I must say. 

“I don’t understand Mountain Climbing in the Bible. Moriah is not a mountain of significance, and don’t get me started on Sinai. If you Bible travelers had a real sense of the spiritual you would have the entire story take place in Nepal!”

He was so agitated that he, with his newer, far more advanced, travel device, summoned Muir, who said, “Now away we go towards the top. Many still voices are calling, ‘Come Higher!’” (I don’t even want to discuss his conviction that the “still voices,” were the very ones that spoke to Elijah, “After the earthquake—fire; but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire—a soft murmuring sound (I Kings 9:12 – sefaria.org),” and off which we speak on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, “A great shofar is sounded, and a silent, gentle voice is heard (Machzor Rosh Hashanah Ashkenaz – sefaria.org).”

Word of the debate between the great mountain climbers and the Biblical peak explorers spread throughout the charging station.

Edward Felix Norton (Born in Argentina *drb), author of “The Fight for Everest 1924 – Mallory, Irvine and the Quest for Everest” zoomed in to support the mountain climbers. He was non too pleased when I casually mentioned that both Mallory and Irvine died in their quest and that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are very much alive. 

All the authors of my favorite childhood books arrived, John Hunt, Edward Whymper, even Maurice Herzog, who had to be carried in on a stretcher because he lost most of his limbs climbing Annapurna. Apsley Cherry-Garrard came to support the spirit of adventure which he considered almost spiritual in nature.

The experience for me was surreal. I couldn’t believe that people believed their mountain climbing adventures were greater achievements than that of my Biblical heroes, or, for that matter, any of the master teachers and guides I took along we me to explore the Bible. 

Is it fair for me to say that if someone reads a Bible story and doesn’t experience a great sense of Spiritual Adventure is reading a story but certainly not studying Bible!

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