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There is a discussion as to whether the amount of time or the distance traveled generates the obligation to say Tefillat HaDerech. The reasons being either because travelling far could lead to dangerous encounters (e.g. travelling overseas in days of old), or that travelling certain distances between cities you could encounter bandits or wild animals (as the blessing itself states), etc.

This article goes on to say that:

We don't say the bracha in town, even though there are many car accidents also inside the city, because the blessing was established for travelers on the way, and only outside town does one fall under the category of a "traveler". But as soon as one is on the way, the dangers are immediate, and not a function of how much time is spent on the road. Therefore it makes sense to say the bracha immediately after leaving town, if traveling for more than 4 kilometers, even if for less than 72 minutes.

Since travelling large distances is immeasurably safer nowadays, could it be legitimate to revoke Tefillat HaDerech altogether? Change the nusach? Or only said under very specific conditions?

As an aside: It is good to pray and acknowledge Hashem's help in any situation we encounter and there could be grounds for saying the blessing in any case, even though we are not obligated. However, we don't make a yehi ratzon for all things that are potentially dangerous (eating, walking down the street, swimming, bunjee jumping), but the 'traveler of the past' was given the status of 'in danger', such that a special blessing was instituted. It seems like the metziut has changed considerably.

  • Do you have an example of something else that was instituted by earlier generations but was now revoked by contemporary rabbis? Think 2 days of yomtov outside of eretz yisroel – aBochur Mar 20 '18 at 15:33
  • some relevance - judaism.stackexchange.com/a/44019/5275 – DanF Mar 20 '18 at 15:52
  • I don't recall which rav in the NY City area (maybe it was Rav Haskell Lookstein?) stated that anyone riding the NYC subway should say Tefillat Haderech regardless of how many stops one travels. It's possible that he may have limited this ruling to nighttime travel. So, it seems that distance is not the only factor in the decision. It may have to do with the travel environment as well. – DanF Mar 20 '18 at 18:51
  • See also judaism.stackexchange.com/q/44023/5275 – DanF Mar 20 '18 at 18:53
  • @aBochur dancing on Shabbat has been revoked in most Hasidic circles (among others). This here of course isn't even a case of revocation but rather changed circumstances that cause fewer applications of the existing law. – Double AA Mar 21 '18 at 0:52
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Seemingly because of a concern like yours, there are some poskim that say that you should only say the tefila in a case where you are nervous to travel.

From Halachipedia

According to some poskim, one should recite Tefillat HaDerech only if one is nervous about the trip.

[ R' Joseph B. Soloveitchik, R' Hershel Schachter in Daily Halacha Chabura #21 (5:25)]

  • This seems counter intuitive. The beracha specifies exactly what it is for. It seems too subjective. Objective circumstances normally sets the framework for whether a beracha should be said i.e. not based on feelings. Do they give a reason? – bondonk Mar 27 '18 at 17:22
  • @bondonk Danger is an objective circumstance. Look at the laws of HaGomel for instance – Double AA Jun 19 '18 at 14:37

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