When I travel I try very hard to imagine my life in the next few days so that I know how to pack. I actually give more imaginative forethought to travel than I do to days when I’m at home. At home there is everything I need, and I don’t have to anticipate contingencies.
Yet in travel there is also an element of faith. If you pack lightly, you believe that one way or another, few things will be adequate to the occasion. You will get it wrong, to be sure, but probably not as often as the over-packer who finds that he lugs much and uses little.
There is a story told of the Chofetz Chaim, the great 19th-century sage. Once a group of tourists from America made its way to the small Polish city of Radun to pay homage to the renown rabbi. There the travelers found him in a small study, with a few books, a chair and a desk. “Where is all your stuff?” asked one of the visitors. The Chofetz Chaim answered, “Where is all of yours?” The man said, “But — we are just passing through.”
The Chofetz Chaim smiled. “Me too.”
Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @RabbiWolpe. His latest book, “David: The Divided Heart” (Yale University Press), has recently been published.