Travel on Erev Shabbat

  1. If a person will have to prepare for Shabbos after reaching his destination, the poskim disagree whether he may leave for another city if he will arrive after one third of the day has passed. But the Bach holds that a person can depart for another city even after chatzos if he estimates that he will arrive at his destination well before the Shabbos and have ample time to prepare for Shabbos, and this is the opinion of the later poskim. If all preparations for Shabbos have already been made so that he will not have to prepare the Shabbos meals after he arrives, a person is permitted to set out for another city on erev Shabbos even after chatzos.
  2. Even when it is permitted to depart later in the day, a person has to be careful not to leave so late that he risks violating the Shabbos. Even when the trip is expected to go smoothly, it is common for travelers to meet unexpected delays, especially when traveling by air, and this should be taken into consideration when scheduling travel on erev Shabbos. Even when the trip is made for the sake of a mitzvah, a person should make every effort to arrive at his destination well before Shabbos. A person who makes a long trip on erev Shabbos aware that he risks violating the Shabbos shows disrespect for the Shabbos, even if he is fortunate and arrives on time.
  3. After the time for lighting the Shabbos candles, it is unfitting to travel in a motor vehicle even within the city limits unless it is absolutely necessary. Many people have already accepted the Shabbos, so, even though a person who has not yet accepted the Shabbos is still permitted to do work at home that is forbidden on Shabbos, it is disrespectful of the Shabbos to drive in public before people for whom the Shabbos has already begun. Moreover, most people assume that Shabbos begins when the candles are lit, so when they see a Jew driving after licht benschen, they assume that he is violating the Shabbos, and that is a chilul Hashem. And a person who takes a cab driven by a Jew after licht benschen may, in addition, actually cause chillul Shabbos if the cabby will have no time to drive back before the Shabbos actually starts. Besides that, when traveling just before Shabbos, the cabby is likely to drive too fast, endangering the lives of the passengers, his own life and the lives of pedestrians and other drivers on the road.
  4. The story is told of a talmid chochom in the time of the Chazon Ish who once set out for another city on erev Shabbos after chatzos and had a serious accident. After his recovery (he was in the hospital for a month) he went to the Chazon Ish and told him that he thought that the accident happened because of his averos. The Chazon Ish told him that ordinarily his learning protected him, but in this case, because he set out on erev Shabbos after chatzos, in violation of the halachah, his learning did not protect him.
  5. Happy is the man who completes his journey and has everything prepared for the Shabbos well before Shabbos comes in, so that he accepts the Shabbos early and waits for the Shabbos as a person would wait to receive a king. Doing that, he extends the boundaries of kedushah. G-d will reciprocate by relieving him of oppression—extending his boundaries—in times of trouble. Nothing has he power to sanctify the Jewish People like the Shabbos. That is why the Jewish People were commanded to keep the Shabbos at Mara. G‑d wanted to sanctify their souls and prepare them to receive the Torah on Mount Sinai.

MDhalachalMaase is written by HaRav HaGaon R’ Shammai Gross
Translated by Rabbi Tzvi Abraham