Whether you’re driving to another city or flying across the world, Judaism has several special traditions and amulets to invoke Divine protection and luck on one’s journey.
Check out our explainer and incorporate them into your own life and travels!
1. The Traveler’s Prayer
There is an old Jewish tradition, going back to at least the Talmud, of reciting the Traveler’s Prayer (known as Tefilat HaDerech in Hebrew) at the beginning of a journey. The traditional text of the prayer asks God to deliver the traveler safely, protect them from dangers and perils along their path, and to grant peace on their journey.
The Traveler’s Prayer continues to be said by many Jews today, regardless of their mode of travel – whether on long car trips or flights or train rides. It’s usually recited either when leaving the city limits or about halfway through one’s journey.
The prayer is also commonly inscribed on jewelry and on easy-to-carry items like keychains or pens, or talismans for hanging in one’s car, to use as an amulet for protection and a handy reference for reciting the words.
2. Traveler’s Psalm Jewelry & Amulets
In addition to the codified prayer, there are also certain verses from the Hebrew Bible that are traditionally associated with protection for travelers, and have been commonly engraved on jewelry and amulets. Also often called a “Traveler’s Prayer” or “Traveler’s Psalm,” these include:
- Psalm 91:11: “His Angels Shall Watch Over You, To Guard You on All Your Ways”
- Psalm 121, or specifically the line 121:8: “May God Protect Your Leaving and Coming From Now Until Forever”
- Genesis 49:22, known as Ben Porat Yosef (while this one may not seem obvious, it has a mystical meaning of protection): “A Fruitful Son is Joseph, a Fruitful Son by a Spring”
3. Hamsa Amulets
The Hamsa, a five-fingered hand symbol, is an ancient Jewish symbol for luck, Divine protection, and safeguarding from harm, and has often been used as a talisman by travelers hoping for a little extra Divine help on their journeys.
It’s a traditional motif for jewelry, so you can wear its protective qualities close to your heart and anywhere you go, and today it also adorns keychains and is hung inside cars. Hamsa jewelry and amulets can also be inscribed with the Traveler’s Prayer for an additional protective motif.
4. Car Mezuzahs
A new, modern travel tradition has arisen to bring Divine protection and Jewish spirituality to our travels: car mezuzahs! While standard mezuzahs are meant to adorn the doorways of one’s home, this custom involves affixing a small mezuzah replica inside one’s car, normally near the doors or dashboard, containing the text of the Traveler’s Prayer inside.
Car mezuzahs are a way to always carry the sacred words of the Traveler’s Prayer on every car journey, while also evoking the protective symbolism of the classic mezuzah shape. They can also have additional Jewish symbolism added to the décor such as a Hamsa or Star of David.
5. General Protection Amulets
There are several other traditional amulets for protection that can be used with an intention for a safe journey:
- Shema Yisrael jewelry – an ancient protective amulet, using the words of the classic Jewish declaration of faith from the Book of Deuteronomy
- Mezuzah necklaces – shaped like a mezuzah and traditionally worn as a talisman for Divine guidance and safeguarding
- Priestly Blessing jewelry – quoting the Priestly Blessing from the Book of Numbers, one of the oldest Jewish prayers, and believed to provide protection to its wearer
- The entire Book of Psalms or Tehillim – can have a small version of the book attached to a keychain or car hanging, or even a microfilm of it incorporated into a piece of jewelry
Which amulet is your favorite? Do you have any other Jewish travel traditions we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below!
And head on over to our store for beautiful made-in-Israel Traveler’s Prayer jewelry and keychains, car mezuzahs, and even portable travel Judaica so you can carry your Jewish traditions with you wherever your journeys take you!