Prayer Essentials

For the week ending 13 January 2018 / 26 Tevet 5778

The Traveler's Prayer : Part 1

by Rabbi Yitzchak Botton
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When one travels, the “Traveling Prayer” is recited (the text of this prayer is printed in the Siddur). This prayer is to be recited in the plural form, i.e. “That You lead us…. guide us….” If possible, one should stand still rather than recite it while walking. However, one riding (on an animal) need not stop and descend from it. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 110:1)

The above ruling is found in the Talmud (Berachot 29b): Eliyahu HaNavi said to Rav Yehudah, the brother of Rav Salla the Pious, “When you set out on the way, beg leave of your Creator, and then set out….” The Traveler’s prayer includes two main ideas: Requesting permission from G-d to travel, and requesting mercy for a safe and peaceful trip.

Though one should ideally recite this blessing in the plural form (us), if one said the entire blessing in the singular form he nevertheless fulfilled his obligation. (Mishneh Berurah) He writes, commenting on standing still for the blessing: One’s prayer is more likely to be accepted when saying the entire prayer while standing still.

While one is not allowed to change the text that the Rabbis instituted, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach wrote that one can add to the official text of the prayer. For example, one can add a request to be saved from an accident or from terrorists and the like. Rav Chaim Kanievski maintains that one should not add personal requests since everything is already included in the request to be saved “from all manner of punishments”. (Dirshu)

Does one fulfill his obligation by hearing this blessing on a loud speaker (such as when on a tour bus)? Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach maintains that one does not since the voice heard from the amplifier is not the actual voice of the person. However, the Chazon Ish and Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (in Iggrot Moshe) were not decisive about this ruling. (Dirshu)

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