Ask The Rabbi

Heavenly Journey

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Planes, Traveller's Prayer

<NerNCSY@aol.com> wrote:

There is a version of the Tefillat Haderech [traveler's prayer] for regular travel and a version for flying in an airplane. When you fly are you supposed to say both?


Dear <NerNCSY@aol.com> wrote

Someone who sets out on a journey says Tefillat Haderech -- the traveler's prayer. Tefillat Haderech is a prayer asking Hashem to protect us from 'accidents, wild animals, bandits, and all types of calamities that befall the world.'

When the Sages composed this prayer, different methods of travel existed -- e.g., travel by foot, coach or ship. Each type of travel had it's own particular perils. Nevertheless, the Sages did not differentiate, composing only one version of the prayer for all the different types of travel.

The original version of Tefillat Haderech is as relevant to air travel as it is to travel by ship at sea, and therefore there's no need for an airplane version. So although there is a widespread custom to add a supplemental prayer for air travel, there's no need to do so.

Concerning cars: Someone once asked his rabbi why, in our day, we pray for protection from 'wild beasts' when traveling by car? From which 'wild beasts' do we need protection? "The other drivers," the rabbi answered.

And speaking of air travel: An 'entrepreneur' chartered a passenger plane to a far away island. "Big Iron Bird will fly you to beautiful land," he told the inhabitants, who climbed excitedly aboard the 'Big Iron Bird.'

When the plane began experiencing turbulence, he told the frightened passengers, "Iron Bird is hungry! Iron Bird needs gold to eat! Or else Iron Bird will fall down!" He walked up and down the aisle with a sack into which everyone emptied all their gold. Soon the sack was brimming with coins, rings and ornaments.

One of the passengers sighed as he placed into the sack a jewel-studded necklace worth $300.

"Jarunx!" said the person next to him, "Such a great loss!"

"Yeah," said the man. "And just think, British Airways has the same flight for $269 plus mileage perks!"

 
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