I am driving to my relatives for Shabbos. Is there a time on Friday when I am obligated to set out?
By Rabbi Chaim Hillel Raskin, Rov of Anash in Petach Tikvah
The Gemara states that a person may not travel by foot on erev Shabbos more than three parsaos (slightly over seven miles). When using faster modes of travel, the trip shouldn’t take more than the time it takes to walk this distance—4 hours and 48 minutes—measured from sunrise (e.g. arriving at 10:48 a.m. if sunrise is at 6 a.m.).
Chazal were concerned that his host won’t have ample Shabbos food for the unexpected guest, which obviously isn’t an issue when he notifies the host in advance of his arrival. Moreover, the Alter Rebbe points out that we aren’t particular about this limit since nowadays people tend to prepare generous amounts of food for Shabbos. All the more so is this true in our times when food is readily available in stores.
Contemporary poskim still caution against traveling late Friday afternoon for various reasons, including the possibility of unforeseen delays (e.g. traffic, flat tire). Additionally, in order to enter Shabbos calmly, one should aim to arrive at least one hour before Shabbos.
When traveling with a Jewish taxi driver close to Shabbos, there is an additional concern that one might be causing the driver to desecrate Shabbos after dropping him off.
There were many tzadikim who were careful not to travel Friday past midday in any case.
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