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There is a concept that one gets reward for the steps that one takes to travel to synagogue, and this reward extends even if one goes out of their way to go to a synagogue that is further away from their home (Sotah 22a).

My basic question is how far to take this idea. Some examples:

  • Does it apply if one takes the longer of two routes to their synagogue?

  • Does it apply if one takes a more difficult route, say over a hilly route as opposed to a flat route, or an unplowed snowy route as opposed to a plowed route?

  • Does it apply if one zig-zags to increase the distance they travel?

  • Does it apply if one drives to a further synagogue?

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Read about it more here. Since the main idea is to make a greater effort, it would seem to me (based on the information in the link) that the answer to your first two questions is yes, while the answer to the last is no, as mentioned explicitly in the Tzitz Eliezer in the above source:

וענין זה של שכר פסיעות מסתברא דבודאי לא מקיימים ע"י נסיעה ברכב, דהגם דדינא הוא ד'רכוב כמהלך דמי', אבל טירחא כמהלך הא ליכא בזה, ולכן לא שייך להחיל בכאן הכלל הזה של רכוב כמהלך דמי, ולא מקיים על ידי זה מה שצריך אדם להטריח עצמו במצוה כדי לקבל שכר פסיעות.‏

  • R' Danny: According to Micha's general (rationalist) law of sekhar judaism.stackexchange.com/a/66346/1570 , sekhar pesi'os is another aspect of lefum tza'ara agra, which itself is "simply" a means for the mitzvah to make a bigger roshem. After which, the person is judged "ba'ashe hu sham". – Micha Berger Jan 26 '16 at 15:04
  • @MichaBerger According to a large many commentaries, this idea is not generalized to any other mitzvah, i.e. there is no s'char of walking to the Sukkah. It seems, therefore, to not be just a simple application of lefum tza'ara agra. – Y     e     z Jan 27 '16 at 4:00
  • @yEz: would you settle for a "complicated variant"? Who are these large many commentaries? Bar Ilan CD and I didn't do to well finding them (although I am under the weather). – Micha Berger Jan 27 '16 at 10:53
  • One example is the Maharal who says that this is only relevant to going to pray/study (from the link in my answer). – Cauthon Jan 27 '16 at 11:02
  • I didn't find "מהר" in the text you linked to, but I am guessing that you are referring to the bit "ואמרו על מוהר"א הלוי", even though there is no alef in "מורינו הגדול יהודה בן בצלאל [ממשפחת] ליווא". Except that what they said about him was that he would walk around to shop for Shabbos, in order to get sekhar halikhah. That page also discusses the sekhar halikhah for Avraham's having to tease out the details in Lekh Lekha (moving to Israel) and which son for the Aqeidah (avodah, if not avodas halev), parashas Nitzavim (learning) – Micha Berger Jan 27 '16 at 14:50
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Rav Hutner asks why there is no concept of increasing schar pesios with other mitzvos, e.g. I am not obliged to walk to the most distant mocher arba minim in town.

He says because the inyan of tefillah is hiskarvus, therefore being niskarev to the shul is part of the avodah.

Therefore it is not a whimsical schar (zigzagging would increase the schar) but a purposefull schar.

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When Moshe Feinstein zl moved, he said to a visitor "Baruch Hashem I moved to a new apartment". The visitor asked if the new apartment was so much better than the old one and R Moshe answered

Oh no! A dwelling is a dwelling - the advantages of one over the other are insignificant for me. I am happy, though, that I now live further from the yeshivah [where he was also praying] than before. I will be able to earn more s'char halichah

From other places in the biography one sees he was often driven to synagogue. So from there it would appear that RMF considered schar halichah to also apply while driving [although it is possible he meant it only for shabbat].

See the older Artscroll biography p. 202

Now one should also consider the relative benefit of extending one's trip vs other things one can in the synagogue if one arrives early. It is surely more valuable to learn five more minutes than to extend your trip since "Talmud Torah kneged kulam".

  • Be aware that the Artscroll biography of his is extremely inaccurate and misleading. Many of his students were very unhappy with it. It could be that the new one is better. – mevaqesh Aug 10 '16 at 6:53

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