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Aliyah L'Regel

Asaf Nachshon Reenacts Pilgrimage to Yerushalayim

Nachshon left Yavniel wearing the traditional festive attire of Yemenite Jews

Sunday, April 24th, 2016 at 4:17 am

Meet the man who reenacted Aliyah L’Regel -the holiday pilgrimage to Yerushalyim – on foot.

Asaf Nachshon does not meet the definition of the “standard” Jew of 5776. He lives in a Mongolian tent set up on farmland purchased twenty years ago in Yavne’el, and decided to home school his children, just like his ancestors were educated in Yemen, and as he puts it, with “great success”.

This year, Nachshon decided to make a foot pilgrimage to Yerushalayim to Pesach – literally. He decided to make the pilgrimage as pilgrims traditionally had done more than two thousand years ago when the Bais HaMikdosh stood.

Last week, we met Nachshon near the town of Beit Horon – a few miles before he reached his destination, and four days after he left the Yavniel settlement on route to Yerushalayim.

He began the route last Sunday, when he left Yavniel, accompanied by a friend. Nachshon left Yavniel wearing the traditional festive attire of Yemenite Jews – a white robe interwoven with gold thread. In a conversation with Kikar HaShabbat, he makes it clear that when he arrives in Yerushalayim, he will have to buy a new gown because of the wear and tear from the journey. His robe, by the way, is not a gimmick in honor of the journey; it is Nachshon’s preferred everyday mode of dress .

When we asked him why he set out on the pilgrimage, Nachshon explains that the main reason is just to prove to everyone that it’s possible. “Aliya L’Regel is a mitzvah at this time, even though the Bais HaMikdash isn’t standing,” he says. The reason that he decided to make a pilgrimage on foot, is that his private vehicle was recently disabled, especially since he likes to walk.

Nachshon also explains one that one cannot compare Yerushalayim after an hour and a half drive, to Yerushalayim after a week long walk. “Walking to Yerushalayim is an incredible experience. We do a lot of hiking, so why not go on foot to Yerushalayim?”.

Nachshon launched the journey with a friend, who dropped out of the journey the first day, when they reached the Megiddo Junction. All Nachshon took with him is a pocket siddur, a wallet for emergencies and his mobile phone. He sent his phone charger home with his friend.

Nachshon tells of a number of good people who helped him along the way, whether it’s with lodging and food or lending him Tefillin in the morning. Nachshon stresses that he experienced much “Siyata Dishmaya” on the way, whether it was money he found on the way, a winning Chish Gad lottery card, or the meeting with good people on the journey.

His experiences during the five days of walking on the roads varied. He encountered IDF soldiers who arrested him near Wadi Ara. He explains with a smile that he would have done the same if he was a soldier, as he was walking in the dark of the night on the roads of Wadi Ara in traditional Yemeni dress and looked suspicious. However, when the fighters heard his story they were emotional, and asked him to pray for them at the Kosel when he arrives in Yerushalayim.
Photo Credit: Yaakov Naumi/ Flash90

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