Tefillat HaDerech

Apparently, there is an inyan (idea / issue) about not saying tefillat haderech (prayer for a safe trip) until you are a certain distance from any residential buildings (if you are travelling by car / bus). Can anyone verify this? What’s the exact distance? Are there sources you can point me to?

(Currently on the New Jersey Turnpike. KoD’s at the wheel).

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9 Comments

  1. batya from NJ says:

    I believe it is said once you are on the highway en route to your destination…I’m sure you can say it at any point on the NJ turnpike.

    Safe travels…

  2. Actually, we tend to wait until we pass Elizabeth (assuming you’re going South), which we heard from several others. My husband likes to wait until we’re not surrounded by city.

  3. tesyaa says:

    I second the “once you’re on the highway” psak b/c that’s what we do … don’t have the sources, though

  4. Might as well look at the actual halacha in the Shulhan Aruch. Orah Haim 110:7. The Shulhan Aruch says that one says tefillat Haderech with a b’racha if they are travelling at least a parsa (about 4 km according to sefer Tzeida Laderech). The Shulhan Aruch says that one says tefillat haderech after they are established in their journey/החזיק בדרך, which the Mishnah B’rurah explains to mean when they have left the city they live in. This is on the first day of the journey; but successive days one may say the t’filah at the beginning of their travel, even though they are still within a city’s limits. Rav Ovadiah Yosef held, by the way, that if there is danger in one’s journey, one may say t’filat haderech even within the city. I seem to recall when I was a young man that he had instructed people in Israel to say t’filat haderech even when travelling within the city due to the high rate of motor vehicle accidents.

  5. To clarify, leaving the city means to go past the last houses and the 35-40 meters or so past them. See the Mishnah B’rurah mentioned above.

  6. Yossi Ginzberg says:

    I have on good authority that Rav Breuer would insist that the car’s driver say it before moving the car at all. Likewise with plane travel: Takeoff is the most dangerous part, so waiting until you’re away from the city doesn’t make much sense.

  7. According to Rabbi Artscroll (my Ohel Sarah Women’s Siddur, that is), Tefillas Haderech should be said “after you have traveled beyond the settled area.” Some further clarification says that a “trip that warrants reciting [Tefillas HaDerech] is one that takes you more than 2.5 miles beyond the settled area from where you are starting out, through an area without frequent houses” (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 110:7).

    We usually recite the tefillah when we’re in the far suburbs (we live “out of town,” so I won’t bore you with specifics like names). As for plane travel, Artscroll recommends saying Tefillas HaDerech as the plane is taxiing down the runway (if the airport is located in the city where you live, and not way out in the boonies somewhere).

  8. Question, though. I take highways daily, just to get kids to school or run to the store. And yes, sometimes I technically leave the city, but the next one is right next to it. Does that mean saying tefilas haderech every day, as long as I travel 4 km?

    • Tzvi says:

      staying afloat – use google earth, your highway probably runs alongside houses, and there is no 2.5 mile gap along your trip, hence not considered a halachic trip. same is true of much of the NJT, GSP, and other major tri state arteries.
      Now for the chumra of the day – one should pull over to say tefilas haderech (or have a passengerdo it) and not say it while they are driving.

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