20 Av 5781 / Thursday, July 29, 2021 | Torah Reading: Eikev
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Travel Safe - Part 1    

Travel Safe - Part 1

Most people spend hours every day on the road, and people go traveling on vacations or to visit family. Therefore, it is crucially important to learn how to travel safely...


Rebbe Nachman teaches that all of our travels are a rectification for the sin of idol worship. Rebbe Nachman goes further and explains that every time we do not believe in Hashem properly or act out of weak emuna – which includes each and every time that we do not focus on Hashem as we go through our day – iform of idol worship! The travels that a person undergoes – whether to and from work, or across the globe – atone for these blemishes. 


Even more, the Midrash states that “as long as there is idol worship in the world, there is wrath in the world.” Therefore, if a person does not live with complete emuna, Hashem’s wrath is constantly upon him! This is expressed in all sorts of anger within a person; perhaps fighting with his family or co-workers, anger at himself, or just being angry at his life and circumstances. This is one of the reasons why I customarily sing: “Or emuna, or Gehinnom (Hell)!” If Hashem’s wrath rests upon someone, his life is one big Hell on earth.  


However, here comes Rabbeinu, and explains that we have a way to remove this anger from upon ourselves! Through traveling with emuna, we can not only remove Hashem’s wrath, but even bring upon ourselves Hashem’s mercy – which brings in its wake blessing, success, health, satisfaction, peace and wealth. 


Traveling is a Blessing 

Let’s take a step back. Where does the connection between traveling and emuna come from? The answer is simple and yet deep: Traveling reveals a person’s true level of emuna. When you are sitting comfortably in your own house or office, even if you have small tests of emuna, things generally flow naturally. However, someone traveling is constantly faced with serious tests of emuna. There are accidents and delays, drivers cutting you off, people walking across the street, traffic lights and traffic cops. It takes a lot of emuna to stand up to all these tests successfully! Part of the reason why traveling is so difficult, is that Hashem specifically takes this opportunity to send you exact Divine Guidance in order to rectify your emuna 


This is exactly why people do so much traveling nowadays. In previous generations, traveling was extremely rare. In our days, we are traveling without end! Almost every single person spends long hours on the road every day, in addition to trips on a regular basis. The reason for this is that the most important rectification of our generation is to fix our emuna – and traveling enables us to rectify our emuna more than anything else! 


The rule of “Oemuna, or Gehinnom” also applies to the way we travel. Just because someone doesn’t get into an accident, doesn’t mean that he returns home “in peace.” The road rage comes home with him, flowing out onto his wife and kids, affecting his health, and more. But someone who travels with emunais calm the entire way, serves Hashem constantly and fulfills a lot of mitzvotand reaches his destination at peace with himself, bringing peace with him into his home. 


Emuna is my Insurance 

Now, let’s learn how to travel with emuna, for our benefit in this world and the next. Rebbe Nachman teaches that emuna is prayer. Therefore, the primary work of someone traveling – whether they are the driver, or just a passenger – is to strengthen himself in emuna and prayer. Thank Hashem for the car, train, or plane you are in, and everything that happens to you along the way: every green light, every red light, every place you find to sit and rest, and the like.  


Now, it’s time to pray. First off, you should say “The Wayfarer’s Prayer” before every single trip. If you are traveling within the same citysay the prayer without saying Hashem’s name – no matter how short the distance you are traveling. Then, ask Hashem to help you remember that the real driver is Hashem! Ask Hashem to guard you and everyone else who is traveling. Ask Hashem to help you/the driver/the pilot etc. to drive safely and carefully, and to arrive at your destination whole and healthy of body, mind, and money. Pray that you shouldn’t get into an accident with anyone, or hurt anyone, and that no one should hurt you. And when you arrive, thank Hashem, and pray once again for everyone else who is still out there on the road 


It’s also important to remember Rebbe Nachman’s teaching that patience is dependent on emuna (Likutei Moharan 155). That means that a practical way to gauge your emuna is to gauge your level of patience. We see many times that the opposite is true; impatient people become furious easily, and are the most risky and dangerous drivers.


Therefore, pray for patience: “Hashem, I am in your hands, and only in your hands. Only You decide what time I will arrive at my destination, and in what physical and emotional state. Help me to believe that I will arrive exactly when you want – at the time which is truly the very best for me. Help me believe that every delay is for my best, and not to get upset or angry. Instead, enable me to be happy that I am living with emuna, and use the time wisely for prayer and hitbodedut. Enable me to be kind to other drivers, and drive with patience. Help me to believe that everything that happens along the way is Your will, and to cancel my will before Yours. Help me to believe that You are guiding me on the path that is the very best for me. 


Click here to read Part 2, where I explain a few practical and important points to remember while traveling. 


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