REWARD FOR WALKING TO THE BEIS HA'KENESES [reward: steps]
(R. Yochanan): We learned (strategies for) receiving reward from a widow.
There was a widow who used to pray every day in R. Yochanan's Beis Medrash, even though there was a Beis ha'Keneses near her.
R. Yochanan: Isn't there a Beis ha'Keneses near you?
The widow: I come here to receive Schar Pesi'os (reward for each step)!
Bava Metzi'a 107a (Rav): "Baruch Atah ba'Ir" is that your house will be close to the Beis ha'Keneses.
(R. Yochanan): "Baruch Atah ba'Ir" is that you will have a Beis ha'Kisei (privy) near your table. A house close to the Beis ha'Keneses is not a Berachah.
This is like R. Yochanan taught elsewhere, that one is rewarded for every step he takes to walk to the Beis ha'Keneses.
Berachos 8a - Question (Rav Chisda): What do we learn from "Ohev Hash-m Sha'arei Tziyon mi'Kol Mishkenos Yakov"?
Answer: Hash-m loves places where learning leads to definitive Halachah, more than all the Batei Kenesiyos and Batei Medrash.
(R. Chiya bar Ami): After the Churban (when the Great Sanhedrin is not in its place), these places of Halachah are the only places dear to Hash-m.
(Abaye): At first, I used to learn in my house and pray in Beis ha'Keneses; after I heard R. Chiya's teaching, I pray only where I learn.
Even though there were 13 Batei Kenesiyos in Tzipori. R. Ami and R. Asi would pray only where they learned.
Megilah 27b: R. Elazar ben Shamu'a attributed his long life to three merits. One was that he never made a shortcut l'Beis ha'Keneses.
Maseches Sofrim (18:8): "Atem Nitzavim..." - men come to hear (Divrei Torah), women come to be rewarded for their steps, and children come to bring reward to those who bring them. This is the source for girls to come to the Beis ha'Keneses, to bring reward to those who bring them, and they themselves get reward.
Rashi (Megilah 27b DH Kapandriya): R. Elazar never used a Beis ha'Keneses to be a shortcut.
Hagahos on Turei Even (98): I would have explained that he did not make a shortcut to get to a Beis ha'Keneses. He took the long path, to get Schar Pesi'os).
Maharik (113): We cannot change the place of the Beis ha'Keneses without a proper reason (for it will be further for some people). It is known that people prefer to be close. This is a Berachah! Even according to R. Yochanan, who says that one receives Schar Pesi'os, surely one can say 'I do not desire the longer walk, nor its reward.'
Shulchan Aruch (OC 90:18): A fixed Beis Medrash has more Kedushah than a Beis ha'Keneses. It is a greater Mitzvah to pray in a Beis Medrash than in a Beis ha'Keneses, as long as he prays with 10.
Magen Avraham (22): If there are two Batei Kenesiyos it is a Mitzvah to go to the farther one, for he gets Schar Pesi'os.
Magen Avraham (32): Even if there are more people in the Beis ha'Keneses, it is better to pray in his Beis Medrash to avoid Bitul Torah. We find that Rebbi used to pray only once a month! However, in Siman 298:14 we say that we are Batel from the Beis Medrash for "b'Rav Am Hadras Melech"! We must say that there, it is only for a short time, so Chachamim were not concerned.
Avodas ha'Gershoni (12 DH Hinei): A case occurred in which a Yevamah requested that the Yavam come to her to do Chalitzah. The oldest Yavam asked to be paid Schar Pesi'os; a younger brother offered to do Chalitzah for free. Since the Torah obligates her to go to the Yavam, a Yavam may demand money if she wants him to come. Therefore, the oldest brother is not refusing; she must do Chalitzah with the oldest brother.
Rashbam (122a DH l'Krovah): When Eretz Yisrael was divided, people who received land far from Yerushalayim received compensation (for needing to walk further on the festivals).
Question (Chasam Sofer OC 29 DH u'Ketzas): Even though we cannot say that one who is further should pay more because he receives Schar Pesi'os, we cannot say that he should be compensated for being further away! It is difficult to say that the Rashbam says so according to Rav, who argues with R. Yochanan. Rather, they assessed the closer places for more, to show honor to Yerushalayim.
Chasam Sofer (5 CM 177 DH Hinei Yesh): If someone called a Mohel to come circumcise a baby, and there was no baby, he pays him 10 gold pieces (like one who stole a Mitzvah) plus Schar Pesi'os. The Mohel would have preferred to do a Mitzvah, and get reward from Hash-m for having walked to a Mitzvah! I do not know how to assess Schar Pesi'os. Poskim (CM 382:1) argue about whether or not it Is fixed.
Si'ach Yitzchak (7 DH Im Ki): The Maharal (Nesivos Olam) says that Schar Pesi'os applies only to going to the Beis ha'Keneses, but not to a Sukah. We do not find that one must take small steps when returning from a Mitzvah (only after praying in a Beis ha'Keneses).
Si'ach Yitzchak (91 DH v'Shuv): R. Yochanan was surprised that the woman walked to his Beis Medrash instead of the Beis ha'Keneses near her, for he holds that a Beis ha'Keneses has more Kedushah. She answered that (nevertheless) it is better to go to the Beis Medrash for Schar Pesi'os.
Har Tzvi (53): One may fix himself to pray in a further Beis ha'Keneses for Schar Pesi'os, even though he passes a closer Beis ha'Keneses on the way. Poskim say that it is better to walk further; they did not distinguish whether or not he passes a Beis ha'Keneses on the way. This is not called passing over Mitzvos. Berachos 8b permits passing by a Beis ha'Keneses when there is another one in the city.