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Unread 01-05-2012, 06:12 AM   #1
Yankel Nosson
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Question Davening towards Yerushalayim

Is there a concensus among Chabad poskim about the proper way to face Yerushalayim when davening? The following information, from, shows that depending on the ùéèä there can be an almost 45° difference(!) in the proper direction for davening (from NY, anyway).

Davening Direction In New York	 

Following a Rhumb Line-Maintains a constant compass direction
HaRav Yisroel Belsky and others	   
Bearing 96° ≈ East

Following a Great Circle-A straight path of shortest distance
HaRav Yechiel A. Zilber and others	   
Bearing 54° ≈ North-East
People around the world turn to face the site of the Beis Hamikdash when davening. It can be stated that one is facing the Beis Hamikdash if his orientation is such that were he to travel in the direction that he is facing, along a straight path, he would arrive at the Beis Hamikdash.

What is a “straight path”? Perhaps we would say that if one is traveling on a straight path, that means that 1) his compass points in the same direction throughout the entire journey, and 2) he is bearing neither right nor left; he’s traveling straight. Interestingly though, because the surface of the earth is curved, practically any conceivable path, can meet no more than one of the above two criteria (there are exceptions). Otherwise stated, if the traveler is following a straight path (bearing neither right nor left), it is likely that his compass direction is gradually changing, and if his route maintains constant compass direction, then it is likely that he is slightly bearing one way or the other. Accordingly, before one can determine which direction faces the Beis Hamikdash, he must first decide how he will define “straight-ness.”

The term rhumb line is used to describe a route that is straight in the sense that it maintains constant compass direction. The term great circle path is used to describe a route that is straight in the sense that it is neither bearing right nor left. Whether the Torah definition of “straight” follows the rhumb line model or the great circle model, is a subject of disagreement among Rabbonim.
Chassidim must study Chassidus--HaYom Yom 21Kislev
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