Ever feel nervous just before the start of a trip? Ever have sleepless nights before boarding an airplane? Perhaps these hesitations connect back to a time when travel, whether by road or sea, was particularly perilous. Today, traveling is so common that we often think nothing of it, even if there are modern dangers.
Because a journey is not an everyday event, the sages created tefillat haderech, the wayfarer’s prayer. In English, the prayer is:
May it be Your will, Lord, our God and the God of our ancestors, that You lead us to peace, guide our footsteps to peace, and enable us to reach our desired destination for life, happiness, and peace. May You rescue us from the hand of every foe, ambush, robbers, or vicious animals along the way, and from all manner of punishments that rage on the earth. May You send blessing in everything we do, and grant us grace, kindness, and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all who see us. May You hear the sound of our supplications because You are God Who hears prayer and supplications. Blessed are You, God, Who hears prayer.
But what is the definition of a journey? Driving from New York to Boston takes approximately 4 hours. Flying between the same two cities takes less than an hour and a half (from take-off to landing, not counting check-in, security and waiting around time!). As there are different factors involved in different means of travel, please consult with your rabbi as to when tefillat haderech needs to be recited.
So next time you are off to visit grandma or heading to your dream vacation, take a moment for a little extra traveler’s insurance.
For tefillat haderech in Hebrew and transliteration, please click here.
This Treat was originally posted on July 17, 2012.