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Chapter 74:1
Embarking on Ships

1. It is forbidden to embark on a sea journey less then three days before the commencement of Shabbos (1) ( i.e., from Wednesday onwards (2) ). If, however, one is journeying for the sake of a mitzvah ("religious obligation") (3), it is permitted even on Friday.

FOOTNOTES:

(1) There are varying opinions among the commentators as to the basis of this prohibition, however, the one accepted by the Shulchan Aruch is that travelling on the ocean upsets one's system (sea-sickness, etc.) in a way that would detract from one's enjoyment of Shabbos ("Oneg Shabbos"), and it can take up to three days to recover. Since this reasoning doesn't apply to travelling on a river, these restrictions wouldn't apply (see tomorrow's Halacha Yomi).

(2) This is the ruling of the Mogen Avraham (248:2) and the Shulchan Oruch HoRav (248:1). The Vilna Gaon, however, maintains that the Shabbos is included in these three days, and thus the prohibition begins on Thursday.

(3) Some authorities rule that if one is going on a business trip or even to visit a friend, then it is the equivalent (within the context of this particular prohibition) of travelling to perform a mitzvah, and one may therefore embark on Friday. According to these authorities, only leaving for a vacation is prohibited less than 3 days before Shabbos.

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