The meaning of the 𝑇𝑒𝑓𝑖𝑙𝑎𝑡 𝐻𝑎𝐷𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑐ℎ (Traveler’s Prayer or Wayfarer’s Prayer) is that we leave the place where we think we live, to another place and path.
We do not know how long we will be on the road and when we will reach our destination. Maybe we think it will take just a couple of minutes, and then we find ourselves on a path that takes several years, which could start seeming endless.
Where the prayer writes, “𝑙𝑒𝑎𝑑 𝑢𝑠 𝑖𝑛 𝑝𝑒𝑎𝑐𝑒,” it means that we should bring no harm to anyone in our path forward in life, i.e., in what comes from us outwardly to others.
Likewise, “𝑑𝑖𝑟𝑒𝑐𝑡 𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑝𝑠 𝑖𝑛 𝑝𝑒𝑎𝑐𝑒” means to let there be peace for ourselves and for everyone we encounter on our path forward.
“𝐴𝑛𝑑 𝑐𝑎𝑢𝑠𝑒 𝑢𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑐ℎ 𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑑𝑒𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑖𝑛 𝑙𝑖𝑓𝑒, 𝑗𝑜𝑦 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑝𝑒𝑎𝑐𝑒” means that ultimately, everything we do on our path should be good for everyone.
The direct literal translation of “𝑇𝑒𝑓𝑖𝑙𝑎𝑡 𝐻𝑎𝐷𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑐ℎ” is “prayer of the path.” What is the path? It is absolutely everything, and it is endless: the prayer of our direction and our existence, i.e., how our lives should be.
“𝑆𝑎𝑣𝑒 𝑢𝑠 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑦 𝑒𝑛𝑒𝑚𝑦 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑎𝑚𝑏𝑢𝑠ℎ, 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑟𝑜𝑏𝑏𝑒𝑟𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑤𝑖𝑙𝑑 𝑏𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑡𝑠 𝑜𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑡𝑟𝑖𝑝, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑘𝑖𝑛𝑑𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑝𝑢𝑛𝑖𝑠ℎ𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑟𝑎𝑔𝑒 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑜𝑟𝑙𝑑” means that we should observe our movements from one inner state to another. It does not discuss geographical locations. Rather, it emphasizes our peaceful progress so that we avoid problematic encounters with anyone and so that we safely reach our destination: a “place” where we connect with others with ever-greater bonds of kindness.
The path is thus the direction to more and more connection with others and nature. Why else would we wish to leave our abodes? It is so that we exit to a greater connection time and again.
The robbers are then those obstacles sent to us on the path, which help us further connect with each other in order to reach our true and final destination in life, the purpose of our lives.
We never make a prayer in order to have a smoother path, but we wish for the path to bring us to our destination, to more and more closeness among each other and with the single good and benevolent force in reality, which Kabbalists call “the Creator.” Since coming to closeness with each other and the Creator depends on us adjusting our attitude to be good and benevolent outwardly to them, then we come to discover that they are one and the same.
Then the prayer continues: “𝑀𝑎𝑦 𝑌𝑜𝑢 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑓𝑒𝑟 𝑏𝑙𝑒𝑠𝑠𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑢𝑝𝑜𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑜𝑟𝑘 𝑜𝑓 𝑜𝑢𝑟 ℎ𝑎𝑛𝑑𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑔𝑟𝑎𝑛𝑡 𝑚𝑒 𝑔𝑟𝑎𝑐𝑒, 𝑘𝑖𝑛𝑑𝑛𝑒𝑠𝑠, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑚𝑒𝑟𝑐𝑦 𝑖𝑛 𝑌𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑒𝑦𝑒𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑒𝑦𝑒𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑤ℎ𝑜 𝑠𝑒𝑒 𝑢𝑠.” It refers to us treating the world and everything that comes our way as best as we possibly can, i.e., trying to justify everything and staying connected to the idea that everything stems from the single good and benevolent force, the Creator. By doing so, we ourselves become benevolent conduits of goodness. This is the meaning of “𝑀𝑎𝑦 𝑌𝑜𝑢 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑓𝑒𝑟 𝑏𝑙𝑒𝑠𝑠𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑢𝑝𝑜𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑜𝑟𝑘 𝑜𝑓 𝑜𝑢𝑟 ℎ𝑎𝑛𝑑𝑠.”
There can only be a blessing if we strive for greater closeness. Without an effort to reach more closeness with each other and the Creator, then we would not be able to ask for such a connection, and we would accordingly receive no blessing.
The prayer then ends: “And bestow upon us abundant kindness and hearken to the voice of our prayer, for You hear the prayers of all. Blessed are You G‑d, who hearkens to prayer.” That is, the prayer ends in us thanking the Creator for hearing the prayer.
However, does the Creator really hear this prayer?
It is important to understand that the Creator is the single force of reality that acts within us, and so everything we think and say, we say practically with His desire. In general, He does it all Himself. In other words, the Creator Himself places the prayer into our mouths as He is the single force that exists in everything.
It is important to understand that this prayer is not simply a prayer for travelers who leave onto the road from one geographic location to another, but it is a prayer for the path of life. Everything that is implied in the Torah, in prayers, is all a means for our exit into life, and “life” in its fullest meaning is the eternal and perfect life that we attain when we learn to apply the same attitude of the Creator—goodness and benevolence—from ourselves outwardly.
In order for such a prayer to truly be heard, it is insufficient to simply say it with our mouths. We rather need to pronounce it in our hearts. When the prayer comes from our heart, then it is of utmost importance, and it influences the Creator.
Here is the prayer, 𝑇𝑒𝑓𝑖𝑙𝑎𝑡 𝐻𝑎𝐷𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑐ℎ:
𝑀𝑎𝑦 𝑖𝑡 𝑏𝑒 𝑌𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑤𝑖𝑙𝑙, 𝐺‑𝑑, 𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝐺‑𝑑 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐺‑𝑑 𝑜𝑓 𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑓𝑎𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑠, 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑌𝑜𝑢 𝑠ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑙𝑑 𝑙𝑒𝑎𝑑 𝑢𝑠 𝑖𝑛 𝑝𝑒𝑎𝑐𝑒 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑑𝑖𝑟𝑒𝑐𝑡 𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑝𝑠 𝑖𝑛 𝑝𝑒𝑎𝑐𝑒, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑔𝑢𝑖𝑑𝑒 𝑢𝑠 𝑖𝑛 𝑝𝑒𝑎𝑐𝑒, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑠𝑢𝑝𝑝𝑜𝑟𝑡 𝑢𝑠 𝑖𝑛 𝑝𝑒𝑎𝑐𝑒, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑐𝑎𝑢𝑠𝑒 𝑢𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑐ℎ 𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑑𝑒𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑖𝑛 𝑙𝑖𝑓𝑒, 𝑗𝑜𝑦, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑝𝑒𝑎𝑐𝑒. 𝑆𝑎𝑣𝑒 𝑢𝑠 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑦 𝑒𝑛𝑒𝑚𝑦 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑎𝑚𝑏𝑢𝑠ℎ, 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑟𝑜𝑏𝑏𝑒𝑟𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑤𝑖𝑙𝑑 𝑏𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑡𝑠 𝑜𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑡𝑟𝑖𝑝, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑘𝑖𝑛𝑑𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑝𝑢𝑛𝑖𝑠ℎ𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑟𝑎𝑔𝑒 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑜𝑟𝑙𝑑. 𝑀𝑎𝑦 𝑌𝑜𝑢 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑓𝑒𝑟 𝑏𝑙𝑒𝑠𝑠𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑢𝑝𝑜𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑜𝑟𝑘 𝑜𝑓 𝑜𝑢𝑟 ℎ𝑎𝑛𝑑𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑔𝑟𝑎𝑛𝑡 𝑚𝑒 𝑔𝑟𝑎𝑐𝑒, 𝑘𝑖𝑛𝑑𝑛𝑒𝑠𝑠, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑚𝑒𝑟𝑐𝑦 𝑖𝑛 𝑌𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑒𝑦𝑒𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑒𝑦𝑒𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑤ℎ𝑜 𝑠𝑒𝑒 𝑢𝑠, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑏𝑒𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑤 𝑢𝑝𝑜𝑛 𝑢𝑠 𝑎𝑏𝑢𝑛𝑑𝑎𝑛𝑡 𝑘𝑖𝑛𝑑𝑛𝑒𝑠𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 ℎ𝑒𝑎𝑟𝑘𝑒𝑛 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑣𝑜𝑖𝑐𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑝𝑟𝑎𝑦𝑒𝑟, 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑌𝑜𝑢 ℎ𝑒𝑎𝑟 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑟𝑎𝑦𝑒𝑟𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑎𝑙𝑙. 𝐵𝑙𝑒𝑠𝑠𝑒𝑑 𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑌𝑜𝑢 𝐺‑𝑑, 𝑤ℎ𝑜 ℎ𝑒𝑎𝑟𝑘𝑒𝑛𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑝𝑟𝑎𝑦𝑒𝑟.
Based on KabTV’s “News with Dr. Michael Laitman” with Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman and Semion Vinokur on May 22, 2023. Written/edited by students of Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman.