Going to the Mountains? Breaking Down Tefillas Haderech

>>Follow Matzav On Whatsapp!<<

By Rabbi Moshe Pinchasi

Whether it is a family trip, camping trip, heading upstate or even touring Eretz Yisroel, many of us plan to hit the road this summer. A recent AAA survey found that nearly 56 percent of U.S. drivers are planning a road trip this summer, taking advantage of the lowest gas prices since 2005. However, the same survey found, that nearly 70 percent of drivers are concerned about the condition of U.S. roads for their trip.

With a record 38 million Americans traveling this past Memorial Day weekend and more expected over the course of the summer, it is important that roads are safe”, said Jill Ingrassia, AAA Managing Director of Government Relations & Traffic Safety Advocacy. “An estimated $170 billion per year in additional funding is still needed to significantly improve America’s crumbling roads and bridges.” While safe roads and safe driving are essential in ensuring our safety this summer season, Chazal give us another tool to help protect us from potential harm: Tefillas HaDerech. This article will examine the various Halachos pertaining to Tefillas HaDerech.

The Proper Nussach

The Gemara in Berachos1states that when one embarks on a journey that is more than 72 minutes long, one must recite the special prayer known as “Tefillas HaDerech”. This Tefilla must be recited in a “Lashon Rabbim” – a plural form – in order that itshould be more accepted, as the traveler is counting himself with the Tzibbur.

The Nussach, quoted in the Gemara, ends with the words: “Boruch Ata Hashem, Shomea Tefilla”. Although this Tefilla does not begin with the usual “Boruch Ata Hashem” – which is found in the beginning of most Berachos – it nevertheless ends with “Boruch Ata Hashem”.

A Blessing or a Prayer

There is a debate in the Rishonim why this Tefilla is different than other Berachos which begin with “Boruch Ata Hashem”. According to Tosafos2 this is because it is only a praise and a prayer – just like Elokai Neshama – and therefore it is not like other Berachos which begin with “Boruch”. According toRabbeinu Yona3this is because Tefillas HaDerech ends with “Shomea Tefilla”, which is also the signature of one of the Berachos in Shemonei Esrei.Since in Shemonei Esrei this Beracha follows another Beracha – in which case we do not begin the Beracha with “Boruch” – therefore whenever we recite this expression of Beracha we do not start with Boruch.

The center of this debate seems to be whether Tefillas HaDerech is considered to be a Beracha or a Tefilla. According to Tosafos it is a Tefilla, and is therefore not subject to the general rules of Berachos, whereas according to Rabbeinu Yona it is just like any other Beracha.

This discussion would have some practical Halachic implications. There is a general discussion in the Rishonim whether it is preferable to recite anyBeracha that does not begin with Boruch immediately following another Beracha – so that the “Boruch” of the first Beracha will also attach to the second4. Whereas the Tur holds that one can recite the Tefillas HaDerech on its own, following the logic of Tosafos that it is a Tefilla, the Shulchan Aruch5cites the Maharam M’Rottenburg who would recite Tefillas HaDerech immediately following Birkos HaShachar (after “HaGomel Chassodim Tovim”)to fulfill the aforementioned opinions regarding Berachos6. Obviously, the Maharam M’Rottenburg and the Shulchan Aruch follow the understanding of Rabbeinu Yona that Tefillas HaDerech is a Beracha.

L’Halacha, the Poskim advise to recite Tefillas HaDerech following Birkos HaShachar, or, if one embarks on a trip later in the day, one may say it after reciting a Shehakol or a Beracha Acharona prior7. Nevertheless, of one is unable to find another Beracha to recite first, he may recite Tefillas HaDerechon its own8.

The Rambam’s Opinion

The Bais Yosef9and others wonder why the Rambam10omits the Halacha that Tefillas HaDerech must end with “Boruch Ata Hashem”. Similarly, they ask, why does the Rambam omit the Halacha that one only has to recite Tefillas HaDerech if they are going on a Parsa-long trip?

The Pri Chadash11suggests that the Rambam understands that the Tefillas HaDerech mentioned in the Gemara must only be recited in a dangerous road, in which one cannot even stop safely to recite the Shemonei Esrei. Only in such an instance does the Rambam require one to end the Tefilla with “Boruch Ata Hashem”. This is the Tefilla the Rambam refers to in Hilchos Tefilla12. In Hilchos Berachos however, the Rambam is discussing the Tefillathat is recited when one travels a road that is not inherently dangerous. In such a case, one would not end the Tefilla with “Boruch Ata Hashem”.

Although this would seem to imply that in our relatively safe roads one should not end the Tefillas HaDerech with “Boruch Ata Hashem”13, nevertheless, the Ma’amar Mordechai14and many others do not follow the Pri Chadash and maintain that according to all Poskim one should always end Tefillas HaDerech with “Boruch Ata Hashem”, as is the accepted practice.

Stopping & Standing

The Gemara brings a debate whether one must stop and stand to recite Tefillas HaDerech or whether one can say it while walking. It may be that this is dependent on our previous discussion: if Tefillas HaDerech is considered to be a Tefilla then it may be subject to some of the Halachos of Shemonei Esrei, whereas, if it is a Beracha, one would not have to stop and stand. The Shulchan Aruch15rules that it is preferable to stop before reciting Tefillas HaDerech, although, it is unnecessary to step off the donkey in order to stand16.

The Magen Avraham17and other Acharonim distinguish between the driver and the passengers. While the driver should preferably stop and stand – unless stopping or standing on the side of the road would cause him confusion – the passengers may recite it even while the vehicle is traveling. ManyPoskim write that in a bus or other mode of transportation where it is possible for the passenger to stand, one should try to do so18.

How Long?

The aforementioned Gemara writes that one should not recite Tefillas HaDerech unless they are going on a trip that is more than a “Parsa” long19. The general consencus is that a Parsa refers to the amount it takes the average person to walk 2.4 miles20 – which is 72 minutes.

There is a discussion in the Poskim how we apply this rule in modern times, in which we can travel great distances in 72 minutes. Must the trip be 72 minutes long, whether by car, train etc. or does it just have to be a distance of 2.4 miles? The Mishna Berura and others21 (including Rav Yisroel Belsky22 זצל) are of the opinion that we follow the actual distance of 2.4 miles even if it may take very little time to travel that distance. However, manyPoskim23maintain that only if one travels for 72 minutes then one is obligated to recite Tefillas HaDerech (one can recite it without Hashem’s name to avoid this debate).

If one is returning on that day, some say that we add up the lengths of the way there and the way back24. The night follows the previous day regarding this Halacha.

When and Where?

Some Poskim hold that one should wait until he leaves the city and its surrounding areas (70 Amos and a bit – a little less than 40 yards)before recitingTefillas HaDerech. However, the Birkei Yosef25holds that as long is determined to travel he may recite the Beracha even before leaving the city. According to the Taz26one may even recite it in his house. The Mishna Berura27concludes that one should wait until leaving their house before recitingTefillas HaDerech, but, if they have already recited it in the house, one does not have to repeat it.

If one forgot to recite Tefillas HaDerech, the Shulchan Aruch rules that one may do so as long as there are still 72 minutes remaining to his trip. If there is less time remaining, one may still recite it without the name of Hashem.

1 דף כט:, וכן נפסק בשוע, אוח סיקי סד וסירל סא

2 פסחים דף קד: דה כל

3 ברכות דף א. דה אלא

4 שות הראש כלל ד סא ועוד. וכהאחרונים [החידא בקשר גודל (סה אות ז) והמטה יהודה (סו סקב) והמשנב (שם סקיב) ועוד] בדין ברכת אלוקי נשמה שיש לחוש לדבריהם.

5 סיקי סו, וכן הכריעו הפוסקים

6 וכבכהח (סקנא) דלא יניח אחד מברכות השחר כדי לסמוך לה את תפלת הדרך, כיון שעפ המקובלים יש סוד בסדר של ברכות השחר, ולא יפריד ביניהם.

7 כהח שם. ויא [שלה (מסחולין ספ נר מצוה) מגא (סקיג) משנב (סקכח)] שאין לסומכה לברכה קצרה שאינה מסיימת בברוך, ולהכי לא יסמכנה לברכת הנהנין אלא לברכה אחרונה דמברך אחר אכילתו או שתייתו.

8 וממ היכי דלא אפשר כהאחרונים (משנב שם, ועוד) דכיון שהעיקר כדברי הראשונים שאיצ להסמיכה לברכה, רשאי לאומרה אפיבלא להסמיכה לברכה אחרת.

9 שם

10 פי מברכות הכה

11 שם

12 פד היט

13 דספק ברכות להקל

14 שם סקד

15 שם סד

16 ולדברינו נמצא דהשוע פסק בבדינים אלו דלתפלת הדרך יש דין ברכה, ואף אמנם דבדינא דסמיכה לברכה בבי נראה שסמך על שאר הראשונים, ממ לפסק הלכה הביא רק את דברי המהרם, ורק האחרונים כשאיז לעיכובא, ודוק

17 סק יא

18 אולצ (חב פמה סלו) הלכה ברורה (חו עמקא) ועוד רבים, ויש אף שהביאו עדויות שגדולי הדור נהגו לעמוד

19 עפ הבהג (ברכות סוף פד) וכפ הראש (פד סייח) ודלא כפיראשון ברשי (שם דה עד פרסה) וכפ השוע (סיקי סז).

20 ושיעור פרסה לפי החישוב שכהשוע (סיתנט סב) 18 דקות לכל מיל ואכ פרסה שהיא דמיל היינו קרוב ל – 4 קילומטר, כ – 2.4 מייל (השיעורים הם לדעת הגרח נאה, וכמש בחזוע (הלסוכות עמט) שכן העיקר לשיהשוע ולבני ספרד, ואף באולצ (חב מבוא אות ט) ככ בדעת מרן אלא שנהגו להחמיר כהחזוא, ואכמל)

21 משנב (סיקי סקל) פתח הדביר (סיריט סז מההשמטות חג) שדי חמד (מעברכות סב אות טו),

22 שות שולחן הלוי עמכ בשם הגרי קמינצקי

23 שות יביא (חא סייג אות ט), אולצ (חב פז סכז) ועוד רבים מפוסקי זמנינו

24 שות יביא (חו סימח אות ט) אולצ (שם פז סכז)

25 שם סקי

26 סקז

27 סקכח




  1. I’m not going to the country because no one invited me. I feel very bitter and jealous. I wish I had such shailos regarding tefillas haderech.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here