Contact Us

For Which Trips Must One Say Tefilas Haderech?

For Which Trips Must One Say Tefilas Haderech?


1. A person is required to say Tefilas Haderech whenever he takes a “long-distance” journey. The mode of travel is insignificant, whether by foot, animal, wagon, ship, automobile, railroad or even airplane. Even traveling on highways or by rail also involves a certain degree of danger1

2. A journey involving the obligation to say Tefilas Haderech with a concluding berachah must be to a destination at least one parsah 2  beyond the city limits3

Uninhabited areas, such as gardens and orchards, which are on the outskirts of the city and beyond houses are considered part of the required parsah4 .

3. If one is traveling less than a parsah [though there is no requirement], he may still say Tefilas Haderech, but without the concluding berachah5.

It seems that he may also conclude with the berachah, if he wants, provided he omits G‑d’s name6 .

4. If the area in which one is traveling is dangerous, then Tefilas Haderech is in order even for a journey less than a parsah8 .

5. The distance of a parsah is equivalent to 8000 amos 9  which in our terms range from 3.840 km. / 2.385 miles10 to 4.640 km. / 2.9 miles11 to 4.800 km./3 miles12 .

6. The distance of a parsah according to a majority of poskim refers to a spatial distance, even though it may take just a few minutes to travel13 .

Some poskim, however, take it to mean a distance based on the time that it would actually take to walk a parsah, which is 72 minutes. Thus, any journey that takes less than 72 minutes would not require a Tefilas Haderech14. However, if one wants to say Tefilas Haderech without the concluding berachah, he may do so15 .

7. When one is traveling more than a parsah, but there are inhabited areas along the way, on either side, within a parsah, as is common on many of today’s highways, it is questionable whether Tefilas Haderech should be said or not16 .

Therefore it is better that the Tefilas Haderech be recited without the concluding berachah17 .

It would seem therefore according to this, that if the highway cuts through the city, even if the highway is long, Tefilas Haderech is not said, since the traveler really never left the city.

8. Once one has left the city, even though there are houses constantly along the way, he should still say Tefilas Haderech immediately and not wait until the houses cease. Nowadays, the main danger is accidents, especially due to speeding, and therefore Tefilas Haderech should be said once he is on the highway outside the city limits18. [Because of these dangers, one may say it without the closing berachah, even when driving within the city.]

9. If one is traveling between two cities and the distance is less than 2 parsah, then Tefilas Haderech is not said19 .

10. Even though there is a principle that those who are on a mission for a mitzvah 20  are protected from harm, they must still say Tefilas Haderech21 .

Our sages comment that the two verses starting with “Vayehi binso’a” (Bamidbar 10:35-36)  are considered as a separate book. The Yetav Lev “jokingly” explains that there are people who are very meticulous and scrupulous in the observance of kashrus and other religious matters when they are at home, but who manage to find leniencies for everything, when they are away on a journey rationalizing their actions and arguing that on a journey everything is permitted. This, says the Yetav Lev, is the meaning of the comment that “Vayehi binso’a” is a separate book — that “binso’a” — when one travels — he thinks that there is a different Torah than the one he practices at home.

With this in mind, one can also explain the verse “al pi G‑d yachanu ve’al pi G‑d yisa’u” — “according to the word of G‑d they would encamp, and according to the word of G‑d they would journey” 22 . Just as when they “camp” at home, they are guided completely by the word of the Torah, so too, when Jews travel they should be guided and observant of all the laws of the Torah.

In the same vein, the verse concerning the prophet Shmuel which states that wherever he traveled to judge the people “for there was his home” can be explained as follows: “Wherever he went, his home was with him,” i.e. that he always conducted himself, wherever he may have been, with the same consistency and observance as if he was at home.

משנה ברורה סי' ק"י ס"ק ל"א, שערים מצויינים בהלכה סי' ס"ח הערה ג', תהלה לדוד סי' ק"י בהשמטות, ערוך השלחן או"ח שם סע' י"א. ולא כדעת הגר"י רוזין "הגאון מראגאשטאוו" שסבר שאין אומרים תפה"ד כאשר הוא טס באוירון וכנראה שהוא דעת יחידי, ורוב פוסקים סוברים שעל טיסה באוירון אומרים ג"כ תפה"ד עם חתימה
see number 5
טור או"ח סימן ק"י שו"ע או"ח שם סע' ז'
אהלך באמיתך פרק ט אות מ"ה
טור או"ח סי' ק"י, שו"ע או"ח שם סע' ז'
The תהלה לדוד (בהשמטות) distinguishes between traveling by foot or wagon when the main danger is thieves and therefore the distance needs to be at least a parsah, and traveling by train 6  when the main danger is accidents and therefore Tefilas Haderech should be said within one parsah as well.
or cars, buses, etc.
ט"ז או"ח סי' ק"י סק"ו, שו"ע הרב או"ח שם סע' ח, חיי אדם כלל ס"ד הלכה ג, אבל מדבריהם אינו ברור אם חותמים בברכה אבל ממשנה ברורה ס"ק ל' נראה שיש לחתום עם שם
or 4 “mil
לפי שיעורי הגר"ח נאה
לפי שיעורי החזון איש
אהלך באמיתך פרק ט אות מ"ז ואולי שיעור זה לפי חשבון החזו"א בסיבוב
אהלך באמיתך פרק ט אות מ"ז, ועיין בשלחן השלם פרק פ"ח הערה 4 לרשימת הפוסקים שסוברים כן
שערים מצויינים בהלכה סימן ס"ח הערה ב'
קצור שלחן ערוך מקור חיים פרק נ"ג הלכה ד
ביאור הלכה במשנה ברורה סי' ק"י סע' ז
אהלך באמיתך פרק ט אות נ"א ובהערה פ"ה
אז נדברו חלק י' סימן כ"א {ב'}
תהלה לדוד סי' ק"י
such as redeeming a captive, burying the dead, greeting one’s Rebbi, etc.
פסק הראשון לציון מהר' בן ציון מאיר חי עוזיאל הובא בספר תמימי דרך דף כ"ט ע"א
Bamidbar 9:23
Rabbi Eliezer Wenger taught at the Beth Rivkah High School in Montreal, Canada, was rabbi at Congregation Oneg Shabbos in Montreal and the author of over a dozen works on Jewish law.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
1000 characters remaining
Yehuda Shurpin for December 30, 2010

Re: traveler's prayer The Lubavitcher Rebbe bring in his Hayom Yom in the entry for the 19 of Tammuz/library/article_cdo/aid/5831/ that Rabbi Sholom Ber of Lubavitch had the practice that "When travelling, even when spending months in one place, he would recite t'filat haderech, the prayer for travellers daily after davening, omitting G-d's name in the conclusion."

However, this is only while traveling, not when one is residing in one place, even if it is short term. Reply

mike fruitland park, florida December 26, 2010

traveler's prayer does one say the traveler's prayer if he will be living in a far away place temporarily or is there a different prayer to say? Reply

Yehuda Shurpin for June 2, 2010

Re: 72 minutes 1) One should always try and say Tefilas Haderech toward the beginning of one's trip, so even if a trip turns our longer than expected, the traveler will have already said Tefilas Haderech.

2) 72 minutes is the amount of time it would take traveling at a normal pace, therefore if it normally takes less than 72 minutes, one would not be required to say Tefilas Haderech according to the minority opinion cited. Reply

Anonymous NYA, MN June 1, 2010

6 In the minority opinion mentioned, what happens if a trip normally takes less than 72 minutes but due to traffic etc. takes longer (i.e., is the 72 minutes for an ideal travel time provided speed limit, or adjusted based on conditions)? If a trip takes longer than expected when is Tefillat Haderech said? Reply

Anonymous New York, NY January 1, 2010

Contradiction? It seems the statement in #7 is contradicated by the statement in #8. #7 says: "if there are inhabited areas along the way, on either side, within a parsah . . . it is questionable whether Tefilas Haderech should be said or not." Safek bracha l'kula. But in #8: "Once one has left the city, even though there are houses constantly along the way, he should still say Tefilas Haderech immediately and not wait until the houses cease." But #7 said if there are inhabited areas along the way, perhaps it should not be said?

BTW, my particular issue is whether to say tefilat haderech with a bracha when driving from Queens to Monsey. It is longer than 4 miles, but there are inhabited areas all along the way (Palisades), and it is shorter than 72 minutes.

So for now, I'd say without a bracha. Reply

Related Topics