Thursday, December 07, 2006

Direction During Prayer

Q: Rabbi Maroof,

Here in North America, the shortest distance from NY to Jerusalem follows a great circle ( which is an arc which starts its bearing at NE and eventually becomes SE. Therefore maybe we should face northeast. On the other hand the rhumb line ( has a constant bearing of SE. What is the definition of the halacha for where we are to face during davening?

Abraham B.

A: Dear Abraham,

The Aruch Hashulchan addresses this question and explains that the halacha does not require us to be precise when it comes to facing Jerusalem during prayer. As long as the general direction "East" is accurate, we need not be concerned with nuances of Northeast and Southeast - all variations are equally acceptable.

Best Regards,

Rabbi Maroof


Anonymous said...

My Rebbi always said that Jews could be so stringent about some laws, but very lax about some others. This is one of them, apparently. But the general consensus is that those west of Jerusalem's (longitudinal) meridian face east, and those east of the meridian face west.
Just remember that HaKadosh Barukh Hu is in ALL directions, no matter where you turn. ;)

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Anonymous said...

see here for more info on rhumb line and great circle in regards to which direction to face for davening