Tefilas HaDerech is recited before taking a trip outside the city limits. In this tefillah, we ask Hashem to protect us from the perils of travel. Although the dangers we encounter today are slightly different than they were in ancient times, travelers often experience extra hardships. Tefilas HaDerech mentions enemies, ambushes, robbers and wild beasts. It also adds any other “punishments” likely to be met on the road, which can be interpreted to include the modern phenomenon of car accidents.
Like other tefillos, Tefilas HaDerech provides us with the opportunity to strengthen our faith in Divine intervention in the world. It reminds us that our health and safety are in Hashem’s hands, and that our own efforts can only take us so far. Events that seem to be coincidental or due to human error are actually orchestrated by Hashem and have a higher purpose we may not be able to understand.
In Tefilas HaDerech we ask Hashem to ensure that we “reach our destination in life, joy, and peace.” This is a powerful lesson about how we should view our life goals. It’s easy to fall into the trap of seeking financial success, power and respect. Tefilas HaDerech teaches us that we should focus instead on achieving joy and peace through Torah and mitzvos. Acts of chesed, time spent learning Torah, a focus on judging others favorably and avoiding loshon hara will all lead to a peaceful and joyful life that will transcend anything we could earn with money or power.
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