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Shabbat Parashat Lech Lecha | 5769

Tefillat haderech

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Question: If one travels over the course of more than one day, does he make the beracha of tefillat haderech (prayer for the traveler) once or more and, if so, when?  

Answer: The Kolbo (87) cites the Maharam MiRutenberg, saying that one says tefillat haderech only once during the day even if he stops along the way for some time. The Kolbo infers that if one planned to stop overnight at that point and then changed his mind, he would recite it again. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 110:5) accepts both rulings. Thus, there is a concept that a trip, as originally planned, creates a unit regarding tefillat haderech.

However, several Acharonim (Bach, Taz ad loc.) infer from these sources that each day is also a relevant unit, and that one who continues his trip on a second day must recite tefillat haderech again. (The Pri Chadash (OC 110:5) says that a trip receives only one tefillat haderech even over several days; his opinion is not accepted). While this would seem to answer your question, there is discussion as to what constitutes a new day in this regard. The Radvaz (2176) is inclined to believe that since tefillat haderech is a stopgap replacement for tefilla, it is always appropriate when a new day of tefilla arrives. (The Piskei Teshuvot 110:6 attributes this opinion to the Bach and Taz, but this respondent feels that this is a misreading of the sources.) However, the Radvaz was not willing to rely on his position and said that if the traveler does not stop in a place of inhabitation, he would say tefillat haderech again only without an ending as a beracha.

Most poskim require some type of break in between days for the new day’s travel to be considered a new unit worthy of another beracha. The Bach and Perisha mention sleeping in an inn or in a city in order to require a new tefillat haderech the next day, as does the Mishna Berura (110:26). The latter points out (Sha’ar Hatziyun 110:26) that the passing of the day by itself should not suffice, as even regarding the daily Birkat Hatorah, if one did not sleep at all during the night, many say that he does not make a new Birkat Hatorah in the morning.

Not everyone agrees that sleep per se is the issue, but rather the breaking up of the trip that normally accompanies serious sleep. There is a machloket regarding those who sleep in a serious manner on the roadside. Rav S.Z. Orbach is cited as requiring a new beracha if he got out of the car (Halichot Shlomo 21:2); Ishei Yisrael (50:4) says that one would have to sleep in a proper inn to say tefillat haderech as a beracha. The same machloket should apply to one who sleeps on an airport bench during a long stopover. When one sleeps in a boat or plane, where the trip fully continues as he sleeps, there is more agreement that a new tefillat haderech would not be needed.

The question of a new day versus a new leg of a trip also impacts on the timing of another tefillat haderech. The Biur Halacha (to 110:5) is unsure as to what to do if one breaks for the night in a hotel yet wakes up pre-dawn (alot hashachar is the beginning of the halachic day) for the next leg of the trip. Should he recite tefillat haderech immediately after leaving town or should he wait until the new day. He suggest to be cautious and wait, yet says that if the trip will finish before morning, then he should recite it while it is still night.

Let us point out that regarding this general issue, if one is unsure whether or not to say tefillat haderech, he can do so without its ending. As such, it is a non- beracha and not problematic even though it still contains Hashem’s Name (in a tefilla, not a beracha context). Some also suggest incorporating this prayer for road safety into the beracha of Shema Koleinu in Shemoneh Esrei, where personal requests can be inserted (Halichot Shlomo ibid; Shulchan Hatahor (Sender) 110:5.).


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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of George Weinstein

Gershon ben Yehudah Mayer, a lover of the Jewish Nation Torah and Land.

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R ' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga  Brachfeld


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