I am excerpting part of an answer to this question

the Aruch HaShulachan (as well as the B'er Heitev) in סימן קי - דיני תפילת ''הביננו'', ותפילת הדרך והפועלים says:

טו: אין לאמר תפילת הדרך אלא אם כן יש לו לילך פרסה, דפחות מפרסה לא נקרא ''דרך''. אלא אם כן הוא מקום סכנה, דאז גם בפחות מזה יש לאומרה.‏

"If one is in a dangerous area, then one says it even for less than a Parsa."

The NYC subway has some dangerous stations, especially late at night. Some subway lines themselves can be considered dangerous because of the neighborhoods they pass through and the people that board the train. I used NYC as an example, but I gather that similar evaluations may be made about many transit systems in the world.

The same source (Aruch Hashulchan) specifies that travel must be to another city. My daily commute on the subway is 1 hr. each way but is within the same city. Normally the distance would qualify, but since it's in the same city, I infer, no. However, the majority of my commute is through several dangerous neighborhoods. Based on this Aruch Hashulchan, should I say Tefillat Haderech? If so, should I say it twice daily, since I make 2 commutes?

  • 1
    The Rav wouldn't say Tefillat Haderech on his commute from Boston to NYC. I also don't say Tefillat Haderech when commuting into DC. The reasoning being [at least for Soloveitchik] is that it's tefillah b'et tzara. Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach also didn't say Tefillat Haderech when he traveled to Jerusalem from Bnei Brak. Here are his reasons (he didn't think he left the yishuv): 1. There are many other cars on the road. 2. The police regularly patrol the road. 3. There are houses on the side of the road.
    – rosenjcb
    Jul 30 '14 at 13:58
  • I question that the subway is more dangerous than the highway
    – Double AA
    Jul 30 '14 at 15:23
  • @DoubleAA - No argument, here. And I saw rosenjcb's comment. Don't quite understand reason 1 in particular as that would enhance the danger. I assume that your highway commute keeps you within the same city? Anyway, perhaps, you SHOULD say Tefillat Haderech. If reason 2, above is true, you're better than the subway. Rarely, do I see cops. IMO, if you live in Israel, now, you may have to say T'fillat Haderech every time you go to the makolet! Or, is everyone placing that much bitachon in Iron Dome?
    – DanF
    Jul 30 '14 at 15:31
  • I think it's reasonable (though I don't know, and CYLOR, whether it's true in halacha) that "dangerous" be defined by number of deaths per capita per annum, or by life expectancy. I can't seem to find stats online on deaths in the subway (though stats abound on deaths on the subway tracks specifically).
    – msh210
    Jul 30 '14 at 17:17
  • 1
    @msh210 - I'm not so sure that statistic can or should be used as a general criteria for "dangerous". If you watch the show "Man vs. Wild" with Bear Grylls, he goes through dangerous remote areas by himself. E.g. - He goes through crocodile-infested swamps. Hardly anyone goes through such areas, so there are no stats. Granted, Bear Grylls is not Jewish, but if he were, I think he would be saying Tefillat Haderech, among other things :-)
    – DanF
    Jul 30 '14 at 17:58

HaRav Nissim Karelitz (Chut Shani Ribbis- kovetz Inyonim 147) writes, one should not say the tefila when traveling within a city, since the beracha was instituted for journeys “on the way” (“derech”), which implies leaving the city.

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l argued that Chazal instituted this tefila only for dangers common in their era and We do not have the power to establish a beracha for contemporary dangers. He therefore suggests that one should recite the tefila without the beracha at the end, or insert it into the beracha of Shema Koleinu during davening prior to the trip (Halichos Shlomo Tefila 21:31)

So since your train ride is within the city I suggest you follow Reb Shlomo Zalman's advice and say it during davening or without a bracha.

The SA OC 110 (in the name of the Kol Bo) says Tefilat HaDerech should only be said once a day. The GR"A compares it to Birkat HaTorah where it is good until morning so you should be covered for both to/from work.

Sources http://www.yeshiva.co/midrash/shiur.asp?id=19583 [Hebrew] http://www.cckollel.org/parsha_encounters/5770/mikeitz_70.pdf [English]

  • IMHO Rav Karelitz' words and general p'sak that Tefilot HaDerech should be said for journeys less than a parsah can be read back in to the Aruch HaShulchan and he is not disagreeing with him.
    – eramm
    Jul 31 '14 at 15:45
  • Nice answer. Thank you. I think I have to ask my Rav on this one. Just a hunch that someone may have addressed this issue a while back. The subways were extremely dangerous in the 70's esp. Safety has gotten better, but now they are more worried about terrorism, though no one seems to know how to defend against it. Maybe after the Hamas war, Israel can send some good Tzahalnicks to NYC.
    – DanF
    Jul 31 '14 at 15:46
  • THe previous Belzer Rebbe - Rav AHron said that because of the dangers of driving, a driver should say Teflat HaDerech every day during Shomea Tefila. Indeed it is the custom of many Chassidic communities that even when traveling further than a parsah out of town if they know they are traveling, then they say Tefilat HaDerech in Shomea Tefila and not on the road because of the safek bracha. (based on an article on the subject written by Dayan Shamai Gross of Belz)
    – eramm
    Jul 31 '14 at 15:50
  • I like the idea of saying Tefillat Haderech as part of Shmoneh Esreh. I wonder if a part of the Belzer Rebbe's decision was "simpler", namely, to prevent someone from trying to read Tefillat Haderech while driving!
    – DanF
    Jul 31 '14 at 18:53

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