Halacha for Monday 11 Elul 5780 August 31 2020

Inter-City Travel and the “Ha’Gomel” Blessing

Before the month of Elul began, we had been discussing the laws of the “Ha’Gomel” blessing. Let us now conclude our discussion on this topic.

We have established that according to the Sephardic custom, one who travels from city to city more than the distance of a “Parsa”, one must recite the “Ha’Gomel” blessing upon arriving at one’s destination.

What is the Distance of a “Parsa”?
A “Parsa” is a unit of distance amounting to approximately four kilometers (or 2.5 miles). The time it takes to walk the distance of a “Parsa” by foot is seventy-two minutes. We must now discuss how to determine the distance of a “Parsa” for which one must recite the “Ha’Gomel” blessing. Is this “Parsa” determined by a set four kilometers such that there is no difference between the method of transportation, i.e. whether one is walking or traveling by car, once one has passed four kilometers of traveling, one must recite this blessing or does this amount of distance refer to the amount of time it takes to walk a distance of a “Parsa” which is seventy-two minutes such that one traveling by car should not recite the “Ha’Gomel” blessing unless one was in transit for seventy-two minutes after leaving the original city limits?

Halachically speaking, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l rules (in his Chazon Ovadia-Berachot, page 364) that this amount of distance should be determined based on one’s current method of traveling, i.e. if one is traveling by foot from city to city and this journey by foot takes one seventy-two minutes or more, one must recite the “Ha’Gomel” blessing when arriving at one’s destination. Similarly, if one is traveling by car or plane and the transit time spans more than seventy-two minutes, one must recite the “Ha’Gomel” blessing upon arriving. However, if one drives in one’s car for only a short time, although distance-wise one has traveled more than four kilometers, one should not recite the “Ha’Gomel” blessing.

Combining the Travel Times To and From One’s Destination
Even if the distance between the two cities is less than seventy-two minutes, however, the combined travel time of both back and forth is a distance of seventy-two minutes, the travel to and from can be combined in this situation to necessitate the “Ha’Gomel” blessing, provided that one is travelling back and forth on the same day (the definition of “on the same day” regarding this Halacha is even if one travels to another city in the morning and returns home at night; see Chazon Ovadia-ibid page 365).

One Who Travels From City to City Every Day
One who travels outside of the city on a daily basis to one’s place of study or work should recite the “Ha’Gomel” blessing only once a week, on Shabbat.

Tefillat Ha’Derech (The Traveler’s Prayer)
We have already explained that all this only applies to Sephardic Jews who have accepted the rulings of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch. Ashkenazim (even in Israel), on the other hand, customarily only recite the “Ha’Gomel” blessing for international travel, such as one taking a flight to a different country. However, regarding Tefillat Ha’Derech, there is no distinction between Sephardim and Ashkenazim, for as long as there are seventy-two minutes of travel time (or walking time) between the two cities, one must recite Tefillat Ha’Derech along with Hashem’s name.

Summary: The distance of a “Parsa” refers to a travel or walking time of seventy-minutes. If one departs to a different city and is in transit for seventy-two minutes or more, even if the seventy-two-minute transit time is a combination of the commute to the other city as well as the trip back home (as long as one travels back and forth on the same day), one must recite Tefillat Ha’Derech along with Hashem’s name. Additionally, according to the Sephardic custom, one must likewise recite the “Ha’Gomel” blessing before ten men, as we have established.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Customary Order of Rosh Hashanah

It is customary to eat certain symbolic foods during the two nights of Rosh Hashanah which signify good fortune for the entire upcoming year. It is therefore customary to eat black-eyed peas, pumpkin, leek, spinach, dates, pomegranates, apples dipped in honey, and meat of a sheep’s head on the......

Read Halacha

A Tool Used for Work Prohibited on Shabbat

In the previous Halachot, we have discussed the basic laws of Muktzeh on Shabbat which is that there are certain objects our Sages prohibited moving on Shabbat. Utensils or tools which are used for types of work that are permitted on Shabbat may be moved for any purpose. Thus, one may move forks, kn......

Read Halacha

Moving an Electric Blanket or Fan on Shabbat

Question: May one use an electric blanket (heating pad) on Shabbat or is it prohibited to be moved due to the prohibition of Muktzeh? Similarly, may one turn a fan to another direction on Shabbat? Answer: In the previous Halachot we have discussed several laws of Muktzeh on Shabbat which are obje......

Read Halacha

The Blessings on Thunder and Lightning

One who sees lightning recites the blessing, “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam Oseh Ma’aseh Bereshit.” One who hears thunder recites the blessing, “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam She’Kocho Ugvurato Maleh Olam.” Until When Can On......

Read Halacha


Moving Books and Newspapers on Shabbat

Question: Is one permitted to move or read medical books or phonebooks on Shabbat? What is the law regarding reading newspapers on Shabbat? The Opinion of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch Regarding Reading Books on Mundane and Forbidden Topics Answer: Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 307, S......

Read Halacha

Moving Food Items on Shabbat

Question: May one move food items on Shabbat if they are not intended for Shabbat use, such as meat designated for Sunday or baking powder and vanilla sugar which have no use on Shabbat? Answer: In the previous Halachot we have explained the primary laws of Muktzeh on Shabbat which is that our S......

Read Halacha

Benefitting From Muktzeh Objects on Shabbat

Question: May one sit on large stones on Shabbat? Similarly, may one lean on a car on Shabbat? Answer: In the previous Halachot we have explained several laws of Muktzeh on Shabbat which are objects that our Sages prohibited moving on Shabbat for several different reasons. We shall now address th......

Read Halacha

The Muktzeh Status of Meat or Fish on Shabbat

Question: May one move raw meat or fish on Shabbat? Answer: In the previous Halachot we have discussed the primary laws of the prohibition of Muktzeh on Shabbat which refers to certain objects that our Sages prohibited moving on Shabbat. Food items which are edible on Shabbat may be moved and are......

Read Halacha