As we get closer to winter break, many families will be getting on the road (or in the air) to travel to friends, families and great places to vacation. There is a very special blessing that we say at the start of a journey.
In the past, journeys were often dangerous. Traveling carried a certain amount of risk that could be avoided if you stay home. Our ancestors asked God for protection. The blessing is called Tefilat Haderech and it is a good idea to have it handy this vacation.
Y’hi ratzon milfanecha Adonai Eloheinu v’Elohei avoteinu v’imoteinu, shetolicheinu l’shalom v’tatzideinu l’shalom,v’tadreichanu l’shalom, v’tagei-aynu limchoz cheftzaynu l’chayim ul’simchah ul’shalom. V’tatzilaynu micaf kol o-yev v’o-rev baderech, umikol minei furaniyot l’chein ulchesed ulrachamim b’einecha uvaynay chol ro-aynu, v’tishma kol tachanuneinu, ki el shomei-a t’filah v’tachanun atah. Baruch atah, Adonai, shomei-a t’filah.
May it be Your will, Adonai our God and God of our fathers and mothers, to lead us to peace, direct our steps to peace, guide us to peace and bring us to our desired destination in life, joy and peace.
Rescue us from any enemy or ambush on the way, and from all afflictions that trouble the world. Send blessing to the work of our hands, and let us find grace, kindness and compassion from You and from all who see us.
Hear our pleas, for You are a God who hears prayer and pleas.
Blessed are You, Adonai, who listens to prayer.
Can you see why this blessing made sense in past times? It was scary and often very dangerous to travel and one never knew what might happen along the way and even when you would arrive or sometimes what the final destination might be like.
Read closer — this blessing asks for peace along the way and on arrival. The plea for rescue is not only from enemies but “afflictions that trouble the world” — that is certainly an amazing request for past ages but also for today.
So this blessing is perfect for all times.
Now whether you are planning on boarding a plane or driving your car, whether you are going across the country or across the town, a blessing is always good to start the journey.
Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of camping services and Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.