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By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt | Series: | Level:

QUESTION: When driving long distance and stopping along the way in a motel, does one repeat Tefillas ha-derech upon resuming the trip in the morning?

DISCUSSION: Yes. When a trip takes longer than twenty-four hours, Tefillas ha-derech is repeated every day of the trip, but only if the traveler breaks up the trip by lodging in a hotel, camping at a campsite, staying over in another person’s home, etc., along the way. But if the traveler did not lodge anywhere overnight but either drove through the night or napped in the car, he does not repeat Tefillas ha-derech in the morning. He should, however, add the basic Tefillas ha-derech text [without concluding: Boruch ata Hashem shomea tefillah] when he recites Shema Koleinu during the morning Shemoneh Esrei.(1)

The same halachah applies to overnight airplane travel: Tefillas ha-derech is recited when the flight begins but is not repeated the next morning – even if the passenger fell asleep for an extended period of time in his seat. As mentioned earlier, the text of Tefillas ha-derech should be incorporated into the Shemoneh Esrei when reciting Shema Koleinu.

QUESTION: When is the correct time to recite Tefillas ha-derech – before the trip begins or once the trip is underway?

DISCUSSION: It depends on the exact case: On the first day of a trip, Tefillas ha-derech should be recited only once the trip is underway – soon after leaving the city limits; i.e., when one begins to travel in an area where there are no more houses. [When travelling by plane, Tefillas ha- derech is said while the plane is taxiing down the runway at high speed, right before it is about to take off.(2)] B’diavad, though, Tefillas ha- derech could be recited at any time during the trip, so long as the traveler is at least 2.5 miles from his destination.(3)

But on subsequent days of the trip, if the traveler sleeps over in a motel, etc., and must repeat Tefillas ha-derech the next morning when resuming the trip, Tefillas ha-derech may be recited right before leaving the hotel; there is no requirement to actually be on the road in order to recite it.(4)

QUESTION: Why did the Rabbis restrict clapping and dancing on Shabbos and Yom Tov?

DISCUSSION: The Talmud(5) records that the Rabbis prohibited playing musical instruments on Shabbos and Yom Tov because musical instruments often need to be tuned, a potential violation of the Shabbos Labor of Makeh b’patish.6 Not only did they prohibit all different types of musical instruments, but they also included all other noise-making objects, such as bells, whistles or rattles.(7)

The Rabbis of the Talmud(8) went even further. They decreed that certain actions which could lead to the playing of musical instruments should also be restricted, even if at the moment there are no musical instruments present or even available. Apparently, they were concerned that such an atmosphere could lead a creative individual to forget that it is Shabbos, and fashion a makeshift musical instrument on the spot.(9) Thus they banned clapping and dancing as well, since these are activities which generate an atmosphere in which music is played.

QUESTION: Nowadays, does the Rabbinical injunction against clapping and dancing on Shabbos and Yom Tov still apply?

DISCUSSION: While all authorities agree that the original edict against playing any kind of instrument remains in effect nowadays,(10) there are conflicting opinions whether or not the additional decree against dancing and clapping is also in effect. Some argue that nowadays we no longer have the ability or talent to fashion a musical instrument on the spot, so we should not prohibit activities that could lead to the fashioning of musical instruments.(11) Others hold that the original Rabbinical decree applied only to dance movements which required musical accompaniment, not to the unstructured and informal circle dancing popular today.(12) For whatever reason, the fact remains that it became customary for people to dance and clap on Shabbos and Yom Tov, and the poskim did not strenuously object to their behavior.(13) While it behooves a ba’al nefesh (a person who is especially meticulous in his mitzvah observance) to refrain from dancing and clapping(14) on Shabbos and Yom Tov [except on Simchas Torah (15)], especially for non-mitzvah purposes,(16) and many people are careful about it,(17) the basic halachah follows the opinion of the poskim who hold that nowadays, the Rabbinical decree against dancing and clapping is no longer applicable.(18)

QUESTION: When the Rabbis restricted clapping, was applauding also included?

DISCUSSION: No, it was not. The original injunction against clapping only included clapping to a specific rhythm or beat, since that type of clapping may lead to the fashioning of musical instruments. Applause, clapping to wake someone from his sleep, or any other type of clapping not done to a specific rhythm, is permitted.(19)

The same halachah applies to banging on a table-top with one’s fist or fingers. If it is done in order to silence a crowd or catch someone’s attention, it is permitted, since it is not a rhythmic beat. Beating on the table-top to a specific beat, however, is included in the Rabbinical injunction against dancing and clapping, and should be avoided by those who do not dance and clap on Shabbos even nowadays.

Tapping a bottle or a glass with a spoon or a fork to a specific rhythm or beat should be avoided by everyone, since this is similar to using non-musical instruments to produce a musical sound (like a rattle), and may have been included in the original injunction against playing musical instruments which applies nowadays as well.(20)


1 Mishnah Berurah 110:24 and Halichos Shelomo 1:21-2.

2 Emes L’yaakov O.C. 110, note 139; Halichos Shelomo 1:21-4; Harav C.P. Scheinberg (oral ruling).

3 O.C. 110:7 and Mishnah Berurah 29.

4 Mishnah Berurah 110:29.

5 Eiruvin 104a.

6 As explained by Rambam, Hilchos Shabbos 23:4.

7 Rama O.C. 338:1.

8 Beitzah 30a.

9 As explained by Sha’ar Efrayim O.C. 36, quoted in Minchas Elazer 1:29.

10 Beiur Halachah 339:3 s.v. lehakel.

11 Tosfos, Beitzah 30a.

12 Aruch ha-Shulchan 339:9.

13 Rama O.C. 338:2; 339:3.

14 Clapping with a shinui is permitted according to all opinions; O.C. 339:3; Mishnha Berurah 338:1.

15 Mishnah Berurah 339:8.

16 Mishnah Berurah 339:10.

17 Kaf ha-Chayim 339:13-14.

18 Minchas Elazer 1:29; Igros Moshe O.C. 2:100. Even those who do not dance on Shabbos are permitted to do so during bein ha-shemashos; Eishel Avraham, Tanina, O.C. 299:10.

19 Mishnah Berurah 338:1; 339:9; Shemiras Shabbos K’hilchasah 28:36.

20 Based on Beiur Halachah 339:3, s.v. lehakel.

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Rabbi Neustadt is Rav of Young Israel in Cleveland Heights. He may be reached at 216-321-4635 or at [email protected].