The Traditional Jewish Traveler’s Prayer
Before embarking on a journey, regardless of whether it is a trip by way of car, airplane, or boat, there is a traditional Jewish prayer that is often recited. This unique prayer is known as the Traveler’s Prayer in English, however in Hebrew it is called “tefilat haderech,” (תפילת הדרך). The origin of the Traveler’s Prayer is found in the Gemara, which is part of the Talmud or oral law.
This prayer serves as a request for a safe and peaceful journey that is free of all trouble. It asks the Lord to watch over the travelers while on their journey and to prevent any dangers from occurring. Traditionally, one recites this prayer if the journey is longer than one parsah (פרסה) and after leaving the city limits. A parsah is an ancient Hebrew unit of measurement that equates to approximately 6 kilometers (roughly 4 miles) in modern terms.
The translation of the Traveler’s Prayer is as follows:
May it be Your will, Lord, our God and the God of our ancestors, that You lead us toward peace, guide our footsteps toward peace, and make us reach our desired destination for life, gladness, and peace. May You rescue us from the hand of every foe, ambush along the way, and from all manner of punishments that assemble to come to earth. May You send blessing in our handiwork, 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 humble request because You are God Who hears prayer requests. Blessed are You, Lord, Who hears prayer.
This prayer is a wonderful and special way to start off your travels with a focus on God. We hope that it will be meaningful and useful to you as you travel during this holiday season or during any other time of the year.