Facing Northeast for Yerushalayim?

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    My brother heard a shiur by someone claiming that one should face northeast instead of east when davening to Yerushalayim. It is based on the fact that when going around the globe, the shortest route to Yerushalayim is an arc of a great circle, and this arc starts out going what to us, on a standard Mercator map appears to be northeast. More information can be found at:



    However, I have my doubts.

    1. No sefer mentions this. They all say face east.

    2. the Torah was meant for ordinary people, including taxi drivers and farmers, not just for MIT grads. Halacha goes on how we perceive things, and we perceive Jerusalem as in the east, slightly to the south. You are supposed to look up when saying Kedusha. does this mean someone in australia should look down? Of course not! The mitzvos are based legabay us, not legabay Hashem.

    3. Why can’t the tefillos penetrate the ground and go straight to Yerushalayim before heading to shamayim? Who says it has to fly on the surface and take a circuitous “Great Circle” route?

    Tefillos are accepted no matter which direction you pray, but this change from east to northeast seems pointless and mechezi keyuhara. If anyone chashuv says to do this then batla daati, but I haven’t seen it, and it’s not in the seforim hakedoshim.


    Agreed. East is correct, despite the actual factual.


    why are telling this to us- why not tell the person who gave the shiur?


    in australia, they face northwest, but that has to do with position, just like the jews of bavel faced west (and in the gemara, ey is referred to as maarava, west).


    Rabbi Reisman once mentioned this in a motzei Shabbos shiur, but I don’t think he was referring to the US.


    My brother didn’t tell me.

    Update: Myzmanim quotes Rav Yechiel Zilber Shlit”a for the 56 degree northeast shita instead of the usual 96 degree East shita, or East as we usually do it. Not sure who he is, but Rabbi Belsky Shlit”a is quoted as agreeing with the regular way, which is face East. Lechora it’s more than Rabbi Belsky- it’s every sefer mentioning the halacha which says East. “Metzafon Tipasach hara’ah”.


    Actually from most of the US somewhat South of East is the most accurate. The Great Circle is the way Moslems face Mecca.


    Who’s arguing accuracy when we’re very specifically told EAST and not northeast


    Jothar and everyone else: The Seforim don’t say to Daven east. There is nothing special about the east. We daven toward Eretz Yisroel. If you are north of EY than you face south…

    The Shulchan Aruch Harav and The Emunas Chachomim (1600s) actually say to face the shortest route to EY. They actually give the formula to figure it out. It was basically not Nogeya in Europe, since it is much closer to EY. Therefor most Seforim will just mention that if you are north, you should face south.

    As far as the Torah being meant for everbody: The Torah has many complicated Halachos that are mastered by only Talmidei Chachomim. We are supposed to listen to them. Once the Rabbonim establish the direction to face when Davening, it isn’t complicated at all!

    Besides, what makes the latitude line less complicated than the actual direction. Yes, now that it is marked on all the maps it became the natural way to view the direction. But honestly, if I were here a thousand years ago, neither of these would be any simpler to me.


    there is an interesting machlokes in Bava Basra.

    one shita is to daven towards the Bais HaMikdosh. this is the Halacha.

    one shita is to daven towards the west, wherever you are (because the Schechinah is in the west)

    one shita is to daven towards the east, wherever you are (because the Schechinah is in the east)

    one shita is to daven anywhere (because the Schechina is everywhere)

    Rav Sheishes would daven anywhere except east (because certain avodah Zarah would daven east)


    I read somewhere that Rav Shternbuch Shlita writes in one of his seforim as a tzarich iyun that those who daven at the Kosel should be slightly turned because there is some discussion as to exactly where the Kodesh Hakadashim is/was. Did I read it in Haamodia recently? I really dont know.


    “Halacha goes on how we perceive things, and we perceive Jerusalem as in the east, slightly to the south.”

    I’m not sure what you mean by “we perceive Jerusalem as in the east, slightly to the south.”

    How do we perceive it? On a Mercator map? A Mercator map, or any flat map for that matter, distorts the reality.

    The reality, as perceived by any over-land or over-seas traveller, is that to get Yerushalayim from NYC you would travel NE, unless if you wanted to take a circuitous route by going East, or even worse, South East.

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