The Early Bird Catches the…Bus


I have a she'aila that I was hoping you could help me with. To put it bluntly, I am looking for a heter to daven Shacharis in the Old City. My problem is that in order to get to the yeshiva on time (seder starts at 9 a.m.) I have to daven at honeitz hachamoh. The next minyan is at 6:45, which means I would most likely miss the 7:40 bus. The 7:40 bus is the one that would get me to the yeshiva just on time. I usually catch the 8 a.m. bus when I daven at 6:45 and arrive at the yeshiva quite late (9:30 or 9:40, depending on traffic).

Also, I find the early mornings difficult and I sometimes end up davening biyechidus because I sleep in. Starting at 5 a.m. is very difficult. The other problem is kavonoh. I find I have very little kavonoh at 5 a.m. and barely make it through the davening (I tend to fall asleep whenever I sit down). I do better in the 6:45 a.m. minyon.

Were I to catch the 6:30 bus and daven in an 8 a.m. minyon at the Ramban in the Rova, I would arrive at the yeshiva on time – or at worst a few minutes late. It would also mean that I wouldn't get to see my children (when I daven at honeitz hachamoh I see my kids before I catch the bus). The Mishnoh Beruroh explicitly states in "Hilchos Tefilloh" that it is assur to travel before davening Shemone Esrei. Is this considered traveling? If I am "on my way to shul" is that considered traveling? Or because it is in a different city, perhaps it is considered traveling?

My maggid shiur has asked me to be more punctual. The yeshiva, however, will not penalize me in any way if I continue to come late.

I would really appreciate your pesak.


Although the Mechaber (O.C. 89:3) prohibits traveling before davening,[1] I believe there are two reasons to permit you to take the 6:30 bus and daven in the Rova at 8 a.m.

First, the Ramo disagrees with the Mechaber and permits a person to travel before davening, provided that he or she says the berachos before "Boruch She'omar." The Ramo adds that it is best to follow the Mechaber's opinion, but the halochoh is that it is permitted. So, if you want a heter, this should be enough to rely on.

Second, in your situation, I believe it is muttar lechatchiloh to travel to the Rova before davening, even according to the Mechaber.

The Mishnoh Beruroh (89:20) describes the prohibition on traveling before davening as the same as the prohibition on performing a melochoh for a personal need before davening.[2] Taking care of personal needs is only prohibited if it does not involve an element of preparation for a mitzva or have some other apparent religious significance.[3] For example, the Ramo (O.C. 529:1) points out that the Gemoro recommends starting davening later than usual on Yom Tov to allow people to prepare seudas Yom Tov beforehand (M.B. 529:14). When necessary,[4] shopping for Shabbos before davening is permissible (M.B. 250:1, 89:36).[5]

The Aruch Hashulchan (89:22) applies this principle to permit collecting tzedokoh before davening.[6] Apparently, the Aruch Hashulchan makes the same equation as the Mishnoh Beruroh, since he explicitly permits travel ledvar mitzva before davening. The reasoning is mathematical: If work ledvar mitzva is permitted before davening and travel is like work, then traveling ledvar mitzva should be permissible before davening.

In your situation, considering that you have experimented with all the possibilities for davening in RBS and found them wanting in many religious respects, it seems to me that for the sake of a devar mitzva you are permitted to travel to the Rova to daven. The trip will be viewed as cheftzei shomayim.

You will gain the following direct benefits:

  1. You will start the learning seder on time. Not only will you have more time to learn, but your self-esteem as a responsible avreich will be maintained, and this is necessary in order to excel in your learning. Furthermore, coming late indicates a lack of regard for the Torah learning and can negatively affect others in the beis hamidrosh. (This factor is only relevant now that you are learning in Yerusholayim and not working. The same is true of reason number 4.)
  2. You will be able to daven regularly with a minyon.
  3. You will have a better chance of concentrating on davening and thinking about the fact that you are standing in front of Hashem, praising Him and orienting yourself for the day properly. During davening, you will confirm that you realize all of your needs are dependent upon His influence.[7]
  4. The yeshiva administration has pointed out this issue to you. Although they seem to be treating you as a mature adult who will make his own proper decision, they feel it is important for you to correct this behavior, whether for your own benefit, the sake of others in the yeshiva, or both. For the sake of your learning, it is important for you to have good standing in the yeshiva. Conforming to the policies and requests of the yeshiva can be considered cheftzei shomayim. It is likely that you will learn better and receive more from the dedicated staff at the yeshiva when you feel like and are perceived as a serious, full-fledged member of the student body.

These factors can be considered cheftzei shomayim, permitting you to daven in the Rova.

It would be appropriate to say birchos hashachar before traveling.[8]

It would have been difficult to anticipate all the problems of davening in RBS and the benefits of davening in the Rova. I think it is best that you first tried to work out a way to daven in RBS. Now that you have found that none of the options is workable for you, you can travel to Yerusholayim b'heter. If you ever feel that circumstances have changed and you might be able to daven in RBS without losing the benefits mentioned, you should explore that option.

Your suggestion of "on the way to shul" seems far-fetched to me. An intercity trip from RBS to Yerusholayim that takes well over an hour should be considered traveling.

The main drawback will be not being able to see your children in the morning, but that doesn't seem to have happened too often anyway.

May you be able to stay in the beis hamidrosh and take advantage of this heter for many months to come.

BookID: 1 Chapter: 89


According to the Mishnoh Beruroh (89:20), traveling is comparable to taking
care of one's personal needs, which is prohibited before davening even if one
is sure that one will be able to make a minyan within the appropriate time.

The Mishnoh Beruroh points out
that in the case of a great need (e.g., catching a flight or train connection),
one may travel before starting to daven. One can then daven while in transit
despite the less-than-optimal conditions (possibly having to daven while seated
[e.g., on an airplane] and with many distractions). If one has the option of
davening before honeitz hachamoh and after alos hashachar instead
of while in transit, one should do so (Mechaber 89:8). Hence, the leniency of
sha'as hadchak allowing a person to travel before he has finished davening
is only relevant when it is impractical or impossible to daven after alos
hashachar. Otherwise, it is best to daven before honeitz hachamoh
at home, standing and with proper kavonoh. (The Mishnoh Beruroh does
cite the widespread preference for davening while traveling over davening before
the correct time, and he even tries to rationalize the practice; still, he implies
that it is not halachically well grounded.)

(All of this assumes that there
is no difference regarding tefilloh betzibbur. If one has to choose between
davening while standing biyechidus at home with kavonoh before
honeitz hachamoh and davening in transit, seated, with little kavonoh,
but in a minyon of men doing the same, the latter might be better, since it
is also betzibbur.)

None of the situations discussed
until now have considered the possibility of delaying one's davening until after
arriving at one's destination. Often travel extends until after the zeman
, making the previous discussion relevant. However, nowadays
it is also quite common to be in a situation in which the options are as follows:

  1. Daven before honeitz hachamoh, either beyichidus or
  2. Daven in transit, seated and with less kavonoh, either
    biyechidus or betzibbur (e.g., there is a minyon on the train
    from Bet Shemesh to Tel Aviv)
  3. Daven before the end of zeman tefilloh with a minyon after
    reaching one's destination

The poskim permit choice no.
2 if no. 1 is not possible. One should favor no. 1 over no. 2 when feasible
(unless no.1 is beyichidus and no. 2 is betzibbur). But what if no. 3 is an
option? Is that better than no. 1? According to the Mechaber it is wrong to
travel before davening (89:3) and it is wrong to daven before the zeman
of honeitz hachamoh (89:1). Both are permitted bisha'as hadchak
(89:8 and M.B. 89:20). Which of the two is the more severe violation? In a
sha'as hadchak when both options are available, which is preferable?
I have no proof as to what the Mechaber would say. The Ramo, however, offers
a leniency of traveling before davening if one has said "miktzas berachos"
before "Boruch She'omar." The Ramo concludes that even if one did daven up until
"Boruch She'omar," it is best not to travel, but clearly, he rules that this
is only a chumroh (89:3). Therefore, according to the Ramo, it seems
that the best course of action given the choice between davening with a minyon
before honeitz hachamoh and davening with a minyan after a trip (before
the end of zeman tefilloh), is to daven before the trip up until "Boruch
She'omar" and daven with a minyon upon arriving at one's destination.

I have not included the sha'as
factor mentioned by the Mishnoh Beruroh (89:20) among the heterim
in your situation, since the sha'as hadchak referred to by the Shulchan
Aruch seems to me appropriate for a temporary situation only. On occasion, a
special circumstance may arise that will allow a person to travel before davening.
In your situation, however, you want to travel before davening on a regular
basis. It would seem logical to me that one should arrange one's daily schedule
properly and not use the heter of sha'as hadchak on a permanent

This heter could be used
were you to normally daven in Ramat Beit Shemesh but wish to daven in the Rova
due to some extenuating circumstance. For example, if you had left your tallis
and tefillin in the Rova, instead of troubling yourself and another person by
borrowing tallis and tefillin in RBS, you could travel to Yerusholayim
to daven there.

Extending this leniency of
sha'as hadchak
to melochoh before davening, something that is normally
prohibited before davening but due to circumstances cannot be done after davening
may be done beforehand.


According to Rav Avrohom Dovid Worman, the definition of melochoh for
the purposes of this halochoh is any melochoh that is prohibited during
Chol Hamoed (Eshel Avrohom Butschach 89:3). Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt''l
rules that simple activities such as glancing at a newspaper, taking out the
garbage or loading and starting the washing machine (assuming the clothing has
already been sorted) are permitted before davening (Tefilloh Kehilchosoh, chapter
6, note 36).

It should be noted that Rav Shlomo
Zalman Auerbach understands the prohibition as applying to activities performed
when one is about to daven. Engaging in some other activity instead of davening
is prohibited. If, however, the minyon is to begin at 6:45 and you are awake
earlier, you may, for instance, shop for breakfast or shower (even with soap
and shampoo), since it does not conflict with the davening. This same principle
is widely used when traveling in the afternoon. The same prohibition on working
or traveling before Shacharis is applicable before Mincha. Nevertheless, people
will often travel from city to city before davening. Since they plan to daven
in the second city closer to sunset, the prohibition on travel and work is not
yet relevant. Only at the time when they plan to daven does the prohibition
become effective. Hence, traveling in the early afternoon before Mincha does
not pose a halachic problem if the expected arrival time allows enough time
for davening Mincha in the second city.


All of our actions should be done for the sake of heaven and should have religious
significance. Nonetheless, a distinction is drawn between those activities that
directly lead to the performance of a mitzva and those that lead to the smooth
functioning of our lives so that we can properly serve Hashem in the fulfillment
of mitzvos. For example, shopping for food for Sunday morning breakfast is prohibited
before davening, even though you might eat your breakfast with the hope of having
the energy that day to fulfill the will of Hashem, perform mitzvos and study
Torah. Shopping for food on Friday morning to be used in honor of Shabbos is
permitted (see next note), since preparing a respectable meal for Shabbos is
a mitzva (Mishnoh Beruroh 89:36, 250:1). It follows that washing dishes on Shabbos
morning before davening is permitted if it will save time in starting the seuda
after you return from shul.


If one can shop for Shabbos after Shacharis, one must do so (M.B. 250:1). Only
if one suspects the items needed for Shabbos will not be available after Shacharis
is shopping for Shabbos before tefilloh considered a necessity.


The distinction between dvar reshus and dvar mitzva is found in
regard to osek bitzrochov before davening. (Osek betzrochov refers
to engaging in activities like a haircut or work.) Since the Mishnoh Beruroh
equates travel before davening with osek bitzrochov, the distinction
between osek bitzrochov and osek becheftzei shomayim should
still be relevant. Indeed, as expected, in M.B. 90:53 an implied distinction
is drawn between devar reshus and devar mitzva with respect to
travel before davening. As mentioned above, the Aruch Hashulchan (89:22) distinguishes
between devar reshus and devar mitzva with respect to travel.


Shopping before davening in order to prepare food for children to eat before
school or in school is considered tzorchei shomayim according to Rav
Elyashiv shlita. Rav Auerbach points out that if shopping or preparing
children's sandwiches helps to relieve one's spouse of this chore, it can be
done as an act of chesed for one spouse and can be viewed as tzorchei
(Tefilloh Kehilchaso, chapter 6, note 39).Clearly, the poskim
define devar mitzva quite liberally.


The idea that kavonoh can make an activity that is normally prohibited
before davening permissible can be derived from M.B. 89:22 and 89:26. Coffee
and tea are allowed before davening only for those people who need the boost
in order to have kavonoh (89:22). (Although the M.B. does not permit
adding sugar to the coffee or tea, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt''l and other
gedolim say that times have changed, and now that sugar is customary
in coffee and tea, they are permissible before davening. Perhaps the halachic
basis for this change in halochoh is explained by a change in people's attitude
towards coffee without sugar. It is possible that today being restricted to
coffee without sugar before davening is the halachic equivalent of being terribly
hungry. A terribly hungry person is considered ill and may eat before davening.
If someone is so hungry or thirsty that he cannot concentrate, he may eat or
drink in order to have kavonoh (89:26).

Rav Chaim Kanievski permits smoking
a cigarette before davening if one needs it to daven better (Ishei Yisrael,
Teshuva of Rav Kanievski 84).

It is conceivable that a morning
jog, workout or swim could help a person to have kavonoh as much as caffeine
or nicotine and should be permitted on those grounds. This leniency should be
reserved for individuals who have difficulty with their kavonoh and are
seeking a way of boosting their concentration.

Not only activities that improve
kavonoh are permitted; any activity performed in preparation for davening
can be done before davening. Going to the mikve and showering there is permissible
since the intention is to be tahor for davening. Even without going to
the mikve, showering without soap is permissible, just as it is appropriate
to wash one's face, hands and feet before davening.

Young ladies in junior high school
or high school who daven in school and are accustomed to following the opinion
that women are obligated in tefillas Shacharis (see M.B. 106:4) should
be just as careful not to eat before davening as men (see Minchas Yitzchak,
vol. 4 28:3). Although there is great educational value in having the young
women daven together under the direction of an educator, if it will lead them
to eat before davening it is counter-educational; in that case, a solution should
be found that conveys lessons in davening without encouraging them to violate
the halochoh. Many of the young women might fall into the category of hungry
and thirsty people, who are considered ill and may eat before davening (89:4).
But if the demand that all students daven in school is based on the assumption
that they will eat breakfast before school because they are considered ill,
the reason behind the policy should be publicized. That way, a strong young
lady who is capable of waiting until after davening will know not to eat or
may request permission to daven at home (see Iggros Moshe O.C. vol. 4, 101:2).


There is no mitzva-related reason to say the berachos in Yerusholayim.
Therefore, it seems logical to divide the tefilloh. The berachos
should be said in RBS (see Ramo 89:3 and M.B. 90:53).

The Biur Halochoh (250 s.v. Yashkim)
indicates that Kerias Shema should also be said before one does work ledvar
before davening; however, Shulchan Aruch Harav (250:3) explains that
this is only if there is a reasonable likelihood that the work will make the
person miss zeman Kerias Shema. Therefore, if the 8 a.m. minyan
in the Rova makes zeman Kerias Shema, it is not necessary to say Kerias
Shema before you leave.

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