By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld
The Gemara in Pesachim, daf tazddik gimmel, amud bais discusses what is considered a “derech rechoka,”(far away path) regarding a person being exempt from bringing a korban Pesach due to the distance from Yerushalayim. Reb Akiva says the distance from Modiim and outward in all directions would be considered “rechoka.” Ula says the distance from Modiim and outwards fifteen “mil” would be considered “rechoka.” Rashi explains that the distance mentioned above is the amount of land that could be traversed were one to travel from chatzos until shkiya. Chatzos until shkiya is the timeframe given for the bringing of the korban Pesach; therefore the person who is farther than that distance from the Bais Hamikdosh is exempt from bringing the Korban until Pesach Sheini.
The Tiferes Yisroel in Perek Tes, mishna bais writes that in our times where we have the means and ways of travelling in a much quicker fashion, when the time comes and we will be zocheh to bring the Korban Pesach, we will not be exempt even though we may be far way. This is so because we will be able to cover the long distance in less time and be able to arrive on time to bring the Korban. The Tiferes Yisroel changes his mind later on and says that it is the distance that the average person would travel in that amount of time, and it does not matter that we have quicker ways of travel today.
A similar question arises regarding the bracha of Hagomel. The Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, siman resh yud tes, seif zayin discusses that in Sforad the minhag is to bentch Gomel even when just traveling from city to city. We say that all roads are bechezkas sakana. In the event that the road travelled between two cities is less than a parsa 4 millin, (72 minute walk) one does not make a birchas Hagomel. The Sdei Chemed wants to say based on the Tiferes Yisroel’s final thought process that even if one travels that distance in much less time, he would still need to make the birchas Hagomel. The Shailos U’tshuvos Zichron Yehuda, Orach Chaim, siman mem bais paskensdifferently than the Sdei Chemed and says that one would need to spend that amount of time travelling, (not just measure it by the distance) otherwise he would not be mechuyav to make the bracha of Hagomel.
We could differentiate between Pesach and Birchas Hagomel. When someone makes a Birchas Hagomel, the person had been traveling in a “makom sakana. ” He still needs to thank Hashem for protecting him, whether he travels quickly or slowly. However, there is an issue with timing regarding the Korban Pesach. The Torah says that if a person is not on the road within the normal time frame it would take an average person to travel to Yerushalayim, even if he could travel quickly, he would be exempt from bringing the Korban Pesach.
This is a lesson for all procrastinators; even if you are sure to finish on time, the start time has to be “on time” too.