Bill Meyer - Significant Journeys





“...on the entire way that Hashem your G-d commanded you, you shall go so that you shall live and it will be good for you in the land that you shall possess.” (Parshas Va’eschanan, C. 5: 24-30)

Torah is the blueprint of Creation. All journeys which are significant are so because they carry a spiritual content which relates and can be identified with a “blueprint Torah journey”. Torah is eternal history: a significant journey is so in that the traveller, either in physical or spiritual space, or both has some awareness, albeit just a remez (a hint) that there is some deeper reason for the journey, something beyond moving from A to B in space and time, which with further thought can lead to significant changes in the traveller and his world.

The journeys are about our obligations, our mitzvos, the active ingredient of our communication with humanity and with the Creator, our absolute commitments. Each physical journey can be significant or empty, be it on a train to a Shoah death camp or to a holiday paradise with a loved one, be it a journey from the vigour of maturity to the frailty of age.  Every action can be a significant journey, or a waste of opportunity. The most significant journeys for all of us are the journeys into the understanding of our purpose in life according to Ratzon Hashem, the will of G-d, and to fully comprehend the final journey, not only physically to Eretz Israel but through our extended tikkun into Geulah, redemption, and Achdus, unity of the universal Creation. It can be an aliyah, an upwards steiging to fulfilment through our given abilities, or a yerida, a fall, diminishing effectiveness of our potential, an exile and downward journey away from Eretz Yisroel, away from Geulah. It’s our choice in every activity whether we make an aliyah or a yerida of our journey.

The conceptual and metaphoric framework for the significant journeys project is Jewish, the source is Torah. The visual references derive mostly from my own travels. Each week during the Jewish year we read a parsha, a sequential part of the Chumash from a Sefer Torah. There are 54 parshios and thus 54 images in this exhibition.
The concept however is universal and relevant for all cultures. As a Jewish artist exhibiting in a Jewish institution my world is Jewish which includes the peoples of all cultures who recognize significance in the world beyond the merely pragmatic, beyond empiricism, a world of spirit and meaning. Even the most banal of journeys can be illuminated for the traveller, Jewish or non-Jewish, when the shift from nihilism is made to the knowledge of a world with a Creator Who imbues every action with meaning.

The images visually mark contemporary situations and places. They move beyond the physical into the abstract with layers of fantasy and extend into the Land of Israel and into the lands of our exilic Golus.

Chaim (Bill) Meyer.
01 August 2012

Significant Journeys - Digital prints by Bill Meyer
On exhibition at the Jewish Museum of Australia

26 Alma Road, Melbourne
Sunday 02 December 2012 to Sunday 14 April 2013

Journey to the Beginning


Significant Vertical Journeys (not on exhibition) Rivka Travelling (not on exhibition) Rivka Travelling Two (not on exhibition)Significant Journeys (not on exhibition)


Our lives are articulated by journeys of many types, geographic and spiritual. Whether they are considered as significant is a consequence of the traveller’s perceptual and philosophic profile. In a Jewish context there is no such thing as coincidence and everything has significance if only we can discern it.  For the Torah observant Jew there is a design in which the significance can be glimpsed and experienced.
Most of the weekly Torah readings, (54 Parshios) contain at least one significant Journey in the physical world and this installation is designed around these Parshios. The exhibition is quite specifically about a Jewish world view whilst at the same time it is about universal experience and spiritual strivings.

The Chumash (five books of Moses) are one complex Spiritual Journey on many levels, for Am Yisroel, the Nation of Israel as well as being a blueprint and practical reference with rules of conduct and duties (mitzvos) for the maintenance of the Bris (covenant) between HaShem and Israel for all generations.

Although some parshios of the Chumash (five books of Moses) do not mention a specific physical journey these Parshios are usually about halachic and spiritual matters, about mitzvos and matters pertaining to that greatest journey of all, of life, steiging in Kedusha (spiritual awareness and respect for sanctity), in order to effect a state of Shleimus (completion and unity) and repair (Tikkun) to the spiritual damage wrought on the Briah (Creation) by Adam and Chava and then by the generation of Noach. For each Jew in each generation and for the entire nation in each generation there is an ongoing spiritual journey, a Tikkun Olam and a Tikkun Hanefesh, a correction for the world and a correction for the individual. Thus every Parsha is a significant journey through its succinct information on mitvos, history and covenantal promise.

The selectivity of events and journeys in Torah gives clues to deeper spiritual matters which are beyond the scope of these notes. For example: the many wars and battles in the times of the Avos (Patriarchs) and during the wanderings in the Midbar (Wilderness), the endless kvetching (whinging) backsliding and rebellion. Sometimes there is a great deal of detail and repetition, sometimes terse instruction.
The journey is a common metaphor for significant changes in life on many levels from the most physically banal to the most spiritually elevated.

The Hebrew language (Loshon Kodesh) is most revealing of the focus on the monotheistic imperative for a morally responsive universe, a universe of purpose and unity, a purpose in which each person has a specific role.

Just as each sentence in the Torah is layered in meaning from the simple (pshat), exegetical (drash), allusive and hinting (remez) to the profoundly spiritual (sod), each word in Hebrew comes from a root (shoresh) from which we derive other words with connecting significance. All the words and letters in Hebrew have something to do with the purpose of the Briah (Creation). The Alef-Beis itself, the building blocks of the words (devarim, which also means things) and of the Torah is not a collection of vocal signs but a unit which has layered meanings in each letter.

Significant Journeys works on multiple levels, as can be seen in my earlier works, as does Jewish learning, (from ‘Pshat to Sof ‘from the plain meaning to the hidden and esoteric, each level containing all the other levels). In Significant Journeys this tiered and interlocking experience is presented through The Journey as a metaphor for events from birth to the after-life. There is a series of abstracting images of the creative journey which is taken not only by Prophets and Tzaddikim (the saintly), not only by mystics and artists but by everyone, Jewish and Non-Jewish.

Each letter is itself a word. Each letter has a numeric value and relates through these values to the meanings of other words (gematria). There is a layer of meaning in the structure of this installation which is about numeric associations. There are 54 Parshios; there are 54 images in the installation. Everything in this installation is conceptually related, nothing is coincidental just as there are no coincidences or meaningless journeys in life.

My visual exegesis is another layer in this connectivity, a personal response in a contemporary context.
The time frame for the content of the exhibition is both till the Geulah (end of days- redemption) and my own seventy years of life in this Gilgul, this cycle of life, and as an observant Jew, sometimes more, sometimes less. I can thus relate to the spiritual highs (aliyos) as well as the lows (yeridos) of the individuals and the nation in the Chumash. I can feel the elation and euphoria of spiritual achievement and the self loathing of failure and the endless wandering. With this exhibition project the frame refers to all people at all times but being of necessity a personal experience and very specific, I use material with which I am personally familiar, from my own life of journeys and the history events and journeys of others in my orbit.

Everyday personal and recent historical journeys have their antecedents within the Torah frame-work. The Torah presages every event in our individual lives and all events in history. We can learn from our own ordinary experiences such as journeying to a Simcha, (a bar mitzvah, a wedding or a birth) thousands of miles from home, trips to Eretz Israel to spiritually rejuvenate and catch up with friends and family, business trips, medical journeys, as well as the journey of the refugee or the journey back through history. From the banal to the highly charged, from the ordinary to the dangerous the life-changing journeys we all take through life passing the node points from procreation to death; we can see with reference to Torah that while we do make decisions and apparent choices most of this is beshert: it is within the frame-work of our own destiny. It is up to us to join the dots make the connections.

I work within a traditional Jewish frame work. The artist approaches the timeless Torah in contemporary terms, modern dress, scenery and history. In a 19th century print of the Akeidas Yitzchak which shows the attendants of Avraham, (his son Yishmael and his servant Eliezer) sitting apart smoking hookahs and looking very trendy in their Turkish costumes. Avraham looks like a modern day Yerushalmi in long flowing robes that the followers of the Vilna Gaon fancied. My visual language which is a digitally created landscape with contemporary modes of travel explores the spiritual implications of which I am aware through connections with journeys in the parshios. The geography is present day Europe, Israel and Australia. The time frame is from the late 19th century Israel through the Mandate Period and today, pre- and post-holocaust Europe and my own journeys of the past 70 years approximately. The Journeys are in railway trains and cars and aeroplanes. A Jewish artist does not try to reinvent the wheel as an avant-garde formalistic exercise by turning the conceptual wheel into a triangle or by stripping the images of content. Rather, Jewish images and concerns are timeless and are firmly connected within the continuum of Jewish experience.


Time slows particularly during events of deep emotional or spiritual import. One can also view a simple object, be it a leaf, some snow, a pile of rocks, and completely lose oneself in a timeless connection with that object. It is these moments we can remember, particularly childhood moments which give colour and meaning to our lives. The suspension of time is a sign for us of illumination. It releases us from the frenzy of linear time: the frenzy to catch a train, or to catch a flight. The frenzy disappears once the doors close, the plane takes off, the train leaves the station. This perhaps is what is called the Significant Now. The present is actually suspended time. It is not becoming past and it is no longer the future. In this suspended state one can make great spiritual leaps. These experiences can be meditative and can be therapeutic and they are actually necessary for well-being just as the formal pattern of davening, praying, three times a day is necessary for spiritual well-being. During these moments one goes beyond time to re-engage in the purposeful journey of Torah within the ambit of our personal goals.

THE IMAGES: technical

The images are created digitally using several different high quality visual software programmes. Each image has been catalogued in my database as a unique object with a catalogue raisonnée reference number which appears as part of the exhibition labelling. The format is tif and they have been profiled for colour management RGB to CYMK printing as Lambdas or similar on museum quality paper, neutral PH, and tested to last several centuries, (so I am told). They cannot be copied or pirated at this quality and I have assigned a nominal edition limit of five exemplars for each image. Each image is hand signed by the artist as well as containing a digital hidden signature which cannot be reproduced. A certificate of authenticity accompanies each purchased work from my digital print oeuvre.


The sense of leaving one’s comfort zone for a world full of the parasites who prey on travellers. These parasites include the thieves, the con men, muggers, sexual predators, and murderers. The traveller confronts a world full of toxic threats, wars, man-made and natural disasters,

The Torah lists other dangers including attacks from Amalek, the flesh pots and the idol worshippers, stress and anxiety debilitating to travellers. To this list can be added dangers in Golus, the Diaspora,  which in the past included forest-dwelling bandits, and today, fanatical terrorists, pogroms, hostile states and their anti-semitic vassal populations. The dangers to the creative person can involve loss of confidence in a society which denigrates art with a spiritual orientation.

The sense of speed, rapid changes, retinal fatigue, problems with a younger audience with a very short attention span, and always new techno-toys. The sense, that it is all a fleeting moment and may not be important. Is anyone interested in a chiddush, a novel creation or idea anyway, or is the avant-garde really dead?

I feel it is very important to use metaphors for the life cycles: the Journey is not less important because it is a flickering image or is not traditionally picturesque. The mundane and repetitive view from a train on a route taken many times can be significant.  It is a matter of association and contemplation.

What are you leaving?
What are you approaching? Is this a journey to a better life? Is it an escape simply from something bad? Is your journeying to an unknown future? Are you journeying to a known destination or future whether it is good or bad? Are you journeying to something equal but different from what you have left?
 Are your transitory preoccupations obscuring those ephemeral and potentially peak experiences of the immediate journey experiences which could be transformative, spiritually or physically?
Are you open to understanding and questioning the purpose either ostensible or hidden for your journey?
Are you aware of your needs, your vulnerabilities, your immediate dangers and your resources?
The same journey with the same material can be experienced at different times in very different ways. Are you open to recognizing and evaluating the changes?

What makes the journey significant? Is it the goal and the destination? Is it the magnitude of the reward or potential growth at your destination? Is it the degree of fear or danger which you are leaving or the fear, (death), which you are approaching?

Is your journey a Torah based journey for spiritual steiging or for a purpose which will increase your experience of Yiddishkeit?

How does the journey itself affect your perception of the target or your goal?
Is your journey about leaving something willingly or unwillingly going to something which is on a higher spiritual or physical level and is the awareness of the destination part of the experience of the journey or is the journey itself the experience which may transform the goal or the destination?


Weather, time of day, quality of light, method of transport, geography and terrain, known and unknown routes and places, ability to visualize the physical journey as a metaphor and to perceive it in a Torah context. “Taking your structure with you”.

Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch: “You are a Jew wherever you go, not only in your own kitchen.”  Even though there are difficulties in maintaining frumkeit in this world of constant travel it is actually safer to journey within the ambience of Yiddishkeit as a protection against the dangers of an extremely corrupt world. It is far less confusing and one can derive great strength from the simple matter of insuring that a siddur is always nearby in your bag. One is never static; one is always journeying either towards Yiddishkeit or away from Yiddishkeit.

The train, the car, the train, the ship, the pair of legs. The images are quite banal and very important in their universality. Torah in Derech Eretz manifests as Torah in travel. The internal and the metaphysical. Kabbalistic writings describe the five Olamos, the five universes of interacting and ascending material and spiritual realms. However we are travelling and for whatever purpose this knowledge has enormous power to inform the most mundane details of our journeys with knowledge and wisdom and the ability to affect a Tikkun Hanefesh a personal correction and improvement.

© Chaim Meyer

 August 2012



1: Bereishis 71251_TzimTzum-contraction

1: Bereishis 71252_Adam Kadmon to Malchus (not on exhibition)

2: Noach 71253_Bovel and Dispersion of Nations (not on exhibition)

2: Noach 71254_Fleeing Flood

3: Lech Lecha 71255_Go!

4: Vayeira 71256_Akeidas Yitzchok

5: Chayei Sarah 71257_Eliezer Discovers Rivka

6: Toldos 71258_Maybe (Eisav) Going Nowhere

6: Toldos 71335_Yaacov goes to Charan (not on exhibition)

7: Vayeitzei 71259_Yaacov’s Stones and Angelic Visitors

8: Vayishlach 71420_ “Then Yaacov came to Luz (Bet El) (not on exhibition)

8: Vayishlach 71260_Kever Rochel

9: Vayeishev 71261_Perilous Siblings

10: Mikeitz 71262_Bnei Yaacov Journey to Egypt

11: Vayigash 71263_“I was to be a provider”

12: Vayeichi 71264_Yaacov requests Burial in Eretz Yisroel, Not Berlin



13: Shemos 71265_Moshe Found

14: Vaera 71266_Plagues- Makkos

15; B o 71267_Makkeh Bechoros

16: Beshalach 71268_Journeys through Yam Suf (not on exhibition)

16: Beshalach 71269_Amalek – Deutschland

17: Yisro 71270_Yisro Returns

18: Mishpatim 71271_Preparing for the Luchos

19: Terumah 71272_Blueprint for Mishkan

20: Tetzavah 71273_Bigdei Kohanim

21: Ki Sisa 71274_Shechinah and Heavenly Fire

22: Vayakel 71275_Bezalel and Mishkan Antwerpen

23: Pekudei 71276_Travelling Cloud


24: Vayikra 71277_A Vertical Journey

25: Tzav 71278_Spiritual Journeys through Offerings

26: Shemini 71279_Consuming Midbar Journeys

27; Tazria 71280_A Pure Haven – Birth

28: Metzora 71281_Journeys in Tahores: Separations and Returnings

29: Acharei Mos 71282_Shuva – Journey of Return

30: Kedoshim 71283_Journey into Mitzvos

31: Emor 71284_Journeys in Time and Kedusha

32: Behar 71285_Agrarian Journey

32: Behar 71319_ “When you come into the Land I give you” (not on exhibition)

33: Bechukosai 71385_Aliyah- Brocha for Upward |Journey (not on exhibition)

33: Bechukosai 71286_Into the Land of their Enemies, Golus


34; Bamidbar 71287_Mishkan Journeys

35: Nasso 71288_Census

35: Nasso 71403_Yerida for the Unclean (not on exhibition)

36: Beha’aloscha 71289_“These are the Journeys”

37: Shelach 71290_Journey of the Modern Meraglim

37: Shelach 71432_ Aliyah-Verboten (not on exhibition)

38: Korach 71291_Korach Descendant

39: Chukas 71292_The Travelling Water Rock

40: Balak 71293_Curses Become Blessings; Shalom im Bitoach

41: Pinchas 71294_Vision of Journeys Ending

42: Mattos 71295_The Travellers Inherit The Land

43: Masei 71296_Journey to a Safe Haven – Ir HaMiklat


44: Devarim 71297_“Go up and Possess”

45; Va’eschanan 71298_Journey Shem HaShomayim

46: Eikev 71299_Vertical Journeys

46: Eikev 71463_Remembering Difficult Journeys (not on exhibition)

47: Re’eh 71300_Journey in Food

48: Shoftim 71301_The Travelling King’s Torah

49: Ki Seitzei 71302_Remember Amalek –Zachor Amalek

50: Ki Savo 71303_Journey of Blessings and Curses

51: Nitzavim 71304_Ingathering of the Exiles

52: Vayeilech 71305_Journey to Yerushalayim

53: Ha’azinu 71306_ Journey from Creation to Geulah

54: Ve Zos HaBrocha 71307_Moshe Ascends Mount Nebo



k_331s87e7 71308_Significant Vertical Journeys (not on exhibition)

k_421d85e1 71309_Journey to the Beginning

k_422d2e1 71310_Rivka Travelling (not on exhibition)

k_422d1e3 71311_Rivka Travelling Two (not on exhibition)

k_422d40e2 71312_Significant Journeys (not on exhibition)


About the Artist
Assiyah Series
Significant Journeys
Fire and Ice Series
Antwerp Series

Lambda Prints

Lambda prints are framed in a Diasec method (laminated between sheets of high quality pespex) and printed on museum rated archival quality neutral PH paper. In countries where the Diasec process is not available a similar method will be used. Editions of no more than five are to be created and the master high resolution tif originals remain with the artist.