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Traveling on Erev Shabbos

Traveling on Erev Shabbos

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1. One who must travel on Erev Shabbos should prepare for all possibilities and take along sufficient wine or grape juice for Kiddush (and Havdalah) and a box of matzah or enough challos for the required lechem mishneh for each meal. [The author personally knows of instances in which individuals were delayed because of plane delays and traffic problems and were stuck in places where none of these items were available, — החכם עיניו בראשו — the wise think ahead and plan accordingly.]

2. One should not travel on Erev Shabbos a distance which is more than 3 parsah so that he will arrive with enough time for his hosts or himself to prepare the Shabbos meals1.

3. The distance of 3 parsah is for those traveling by foot. However, for those traveling by wagon, train, car, etc. the distance is based upon the amount of time it takes to travel 3 parsah by foot2.

[According to most authorities, the traveling time for a mil is 18 minutes. Hence, 3 parsah — which is 12 mil — would take 3 hours and 36 minutes. According to the Rav’s Shulchan Aruch the traveling time for a mil is 24 minutes. Hence the traveling time on Erev Shabbos would be 4 hours and 48 minutes.]

4. According to some opinions, if one is traveling by wagon, vehicle, etc. then he may even travel longer than the time it takes to travel 3 parsah as long as he arrives before a third of the day ( see supplement on how to calculate this)3.

5. According to a more lenient ruling, one is permitted to travel by vehicle even past mid-day (chatzos), provided he still has enough time upon arrival to prepare his Shabbos meals4.

6. If the hosts where he intends to stay have been informed of his plans in advance (e.g. through the telephone, letter or messenger) so that they will prepare enough food for their guests, then he may under all circumstances travel more than the 3 parsah limit. He may even travel through most of Friday5.

7. One is also permitted to travel longer distances [provided he does not arrive too close to Shabbos] if the people with whom he plans to stay are known for their hospitality and always look forward to guests. Therefore, they always prepare plenty of food, expecting last minute guests6.

8. If he finds himself on Erev Shabbos in an unpopulated area without the means to prepare for Shabbos, he is permitted to travel more than 3 parsah. The same applies even if he has what is necessary but will not have the proper Oneg Shabbos by being in such a place7.

Another factor allowing him to travel further until he reaches a regular city is that it is dangerous to stay over in an uninhabited or unpopulated area8.

9. It appears that one who is taking along all his Shabbos food would also be allowed to travel more than 3 parsah9.

10. Nowadays, where everyone prepares more than enough food for Shabbos and can feed unexpected guests, we are not careful to avoid traveling only 3 parsah on Erev Shabbos10.

11. When traveling by bus, train or airplane, one must also take into consideration the traveling time from the terminal to one’s final destinations when figuring the distance of 3 parsah11.

12. Even if — according to what has been mentioned above — one does not need to be concerned about food when traveling on Erev Shabbos, one must make sure at the onset not to put himself in a situation where he will be arriving a short time before sunset. Such planning can often lead to the desecration of Shabbos through carrying, going out of techum Shabbos, and other violations. One should not be influenced with the arguments of the yeitzer hara that “the day is long and the roads are good12.”

[This caution is especially true during the summer months when people travel on Fridays to their bungalows, cottages, hotels, and the like. One must take into consideration the very likely possibility of traffic jams, accidents, overheating, construction, etc. and must allow himself extra traveling time.]

13. One should be careful not to leave on a trip on Erev Shabbos after mid-day13.

14. If a husband and wife are returning from a vacation on Erev Shabbos and they had not prepared food for Shabbos, they should avoid returning home after a traveling time of 3 parsah from sunrise14.

Traveling on a ship

15. One is not allowed to start on a cruise or business trip on a ship leaving on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday and the ship will be in the open waters during Shabbos15.

16. However, if he needs to travel for the sake of a mitzvah he is permitted to start the journey without any reservations even from Wednesday onwards. He merely needs to stipulate with the captain of the ship to stop on Shabbos. Even if the captain does not stop the ship afterwards, the passenger has not violated anything16.

17. If the trip takes only a day or two and he will be able to reach his destination before Shabbos, then he is permitted to start an ocean trip even on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday17.

Traveling through the desert

18. is not permitted to join a caravan journeying through the desert if the trip starts on a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday18.

Traveling on a ship owned by a Jew

9. One is not permitted to travel on a ship that is conducted by Jewish sailors if it will be traveling during Shabbos, since it is forbidden for Jews to do any of labors involved. Even if the ship will be starting on the trip on Sunday, it is not permitted19.

A plane or ship arriving late on Friday

20. When an airplane arrives late on Friday, after Shabbos has started, and the airport is located outside of the techum Shabbos limitations of the city, the traveler is permitted to exit the airplane, but he must remain at the airport for the duration of Shabbos. He is permitted to walk around anywhere in the terminal.

If however the airport is located within the city limits, the traveler would be permitted to walk to his destination during Shabbos.

The above ruling also applies to a situation in which the traveler has boarded the airplane early enough to arrive at his destination before Shabbos, but due to unexpected delays the airplane does not take off until after Shabbos had started. Since the doors have been already closed (and the plane was on the runway awaiting takeoff clearance) the staff does not allow him to leave the airplane and he was forced to fly and land on Shabbos.

If he has valuable items with him which are not permitted to be handled on Shabbos (muktzah), but which cannot be left at the airport, he is permitted to keep them and walk around with them in the airport. However, he would not be permitted to keep them with him if he is going to leave the airport20.

Footnotes
1.
סוכה מ"ד ע"ב, שו"ע או"ח סימן רמ"ט סע' א'
2.
שו"ע הרב או"ח סימן רמ"ט סע' ג
3.
משנה ברורה סימן רמ"ט ס"ק א' ולי נראה דזה אתי שפיר לשיטת רוב הפוסקים ששיעורים דמיל 18 מינוט אבל לשיטת שו"ע הרב הנזכר לעיל זה כמעט אינו שייך בהרבה מקומות אפילו בזמנים שהיום ארוך כט"ו שעות
4.
באר היטב או"ח סימן רמ"ט ס"ק א' בשם הב"ח
5.
שו"ע, שו"ע הרב או"ח סימן רמ"ט סע' א'
6.
ערוך השלחן או"ח סימן רמ"ט סע' א'
7.
שו"ע או"ח סימן רמ"ט סע' א', שו"ע הרב שם סע' ב
8.
משנה ברורה סימן רמ"ט ס"ק ה'
9.
כן נראה מלשון הביאור הלכה מהמשנה ברורה סימן רמ"ט ד"ה ויוכל להבין שהביא מהאליה רבה
10.
שו"ע הרב או"ח סימן רמ"ט סע' ד', משנה ברורה שם ס"ק ג'
11.
ערוך השלחן או"ח סימן רמ"ט סע' ג
12.
משנה ברורה סימן רמ"ט ס"ק ג'
13.
קצור שלחן ערוך השלם סימן קכ"ג סע' ט"ו
14.
אהלך באמיתך פרק כ"ח: אות ד'
15.
שו"ע הרב או"ח סימן רמ"ח סע' א, ערוך השלחן שם סעיפים א,ח
16.
שו"ע או"ח סימן רמ"ח סע' א וט"ז שם
17.
אהלך באמיתך פרק כ"ח: אות ט"ו
18.
שו"ע או"ח סימן רמ"ח סע' ד'
19.
שערי הלכה ומנהג ח"ב סימן קס"ט, שו"ת מנחת יצחק ח”ב סי' ק"ו
20.
Perspectives, Agudas Israel of Toronto, Summer 5758 רב מרדכי הלוי קנר
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.
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