Halacha for Wednesday 27 Tammuz 5781 July 7 2021

Praying While Facing the Wrong Direction

Question: If one started praying and realizes that one is inadvertently facing away from Jerusalem, what should one do?

Answer: In the previous Halacha, we have explained that when standing to recite the Amida prayer, one must pray in the general direction of the Land of Israel and when located within the Land of Israel, one should pray while facing the holy city of Jerusalem. When located in Jerusalem, one should pray in the general direction of the place where the Bet Hamikdash stood.

Let us now discuss a situation where, for instance, one is standing west of Jerusalem, such as in the city of Ashdod, in which case one must face eastward while praying and instead, one is facing a different direction, i.e. west, north, or south. If one becomes aware of one’s error while praying, should one move one’s feet in the middle of praying in order to turn to the correct direction? Similarly, what if the individual praying is not aware of his mistake but someone else present is, should he point this out to the individual currently praying?

There are several different opinions regarding this issue. We shall only mention the opinion that we follow halachically based on the ruling of Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l (in his Halichot Olam, Volume 1, page 146).

One Praying Alone in the Wrong Direction
If one is praying alone and should be facing eastward but is facing north or south by mistake, one should not move one’s feet while praying; rather, one should remain standing in place and merely turn one’s face to the east. If someone else sees this individual praying while facing the wrong direction, one should bring this to the individual’s attention so that he can turn his face to the east.

Nevertheless, if the individual is facing the complete opposite direction, i.e. in our situation this would mean facing westward, he cannot turn his face all the way to the east. Thus, some say that he should move his feet and turn to the east and then continue praying. On the other hand, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l rules that one should not bring this mistake to the attention of the individual at all and even if the individual realizes his mistake on his own, one may not move one’s feet in the middle of praying in order to turn to the east; rather, one should continue praying while relying on the opinion (quoted in Baba Batra 25b) that Hashem’s presence is everywhere and one need not face any specific direction while praying.

One Praying With the Congregation in the Synagogue
When we have written above that one praying while facing the wrong direction may not move his feet and turn to the correct direction, this only applies to one praying alone. However, if one is praying in the synagogue and the entire congregation is facing one direction and this individual is facing the opposite direction, one must move one’s feet and turn to the direction the rest of the congregation is facing and only then continue praying.

Summary: If one should be facing eastward and mistakenly began praying while facing north or south, one should turn one’s face to the east and then continue praying. If one mistakenly began praying while facing westward, one should continue praying without facing east. If this happens when one is praying with the congregation in the synagogue, one must move one’s feet and turn to the direction the rest of the congregation is facing and continue praying.

Ask the Rabbi

ספר אביר הרועים - בית מידות
ספר אביר הרועים
לפרטים לחץ כאן

הלכה יומית מפי הראש"ל הגאון רבי יצחק יוסף שליט"א

דין ברכת שפטרנו מעונשו של זה
לחץ כאן לצפייה בשיעורים נוספים

Recent Halachot

"תנא דבי אליהו כל השונה הלכות בכל יום מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא"

נדה ע"ג א'

8 Halachot Most Popular

The Laws of Mentioning “Mashiv Ha’Ruach”

We Begin Reciting “Mashiv Ha’Ruach” “Mashiv Ha’Ruach U’Morid Ha’Geshem” is a praise we recite to Hashem during the winter months within the “Mechayeh Ha’Metim” blessing of the Amidah as is printed in all Siddurim. We begin recitin......

Read Halacha

The Laws of One Who Forgets to Mention “Ve’Ten Tal U’Matar” in the “Blessing of the Years”

In the previous Halacha, we have discussed in a general manner that our Sages enacted that beginning from the Seventh of Marcheshvan (outside of Israel from the Fourth or Fifth of December), one begins reciting “Ve’Ten Tal U’Matar” (a request for dew and rain) in the “B......

Read Halacha

Eating and Washing One’s Self Yom Kippur

Some Laws of Yom Kippur All are obligated to fast on Yom Kippur, including pregnant and nursing women. Any woman whose health is at risk due to the fast should consult a prominent Torah scholar who is well-versed in these laws and he should render his ruling whether or not she must fast. One whose ......

Read Halacha

“The Blessing of the Years”

Beginning from last night, the Seventh of Marcheshvan, we have begun to request rain in the Amida prayer (only in the Land of Israel; the law for those outside of Israel will be discussed further). Let us therefore review some of these pertinent laws. The Enactment of the Sages to Request Rain O......

Read Halacha

When the Sanctity of Shevi’it Will Apply to Fruits and Vegetables and More on “Heter Mechira”

In the previous Halachot we have explained that any produce grown in Jewish-owned fields in the Land of Israel this year (5782) retain the sanctity of Shevi’it. We have likewise discussed the ramifications of this sanctity and the proper way to treat such produce. This sanctity rests even on f......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Shevi’it in a Cooperative Garden

This year (5782) is the Shemitta year. In previous Halachot, we have already explained the basic laws of Shemitta including the fact that one may not plant in or work (in any manner) any land within the Land of Israel unless the work is meant to protect the crops from harm that will befall them if t......

Read Halacha

Sprouting Avocado Pits During Shevi’it and the Blessing on Hydroponic Produce

Question: What is the blessing on vegetables that grow from the water (and not from the ground)? Likewise, is it permissible to plant such hydroponic produce during Shevi’it? Answer: The Blessing on Mushrooms and Truffles The Mishnah in Masechet Berachot (40b) states: “On things whi......

Read Halacha

Forbidden and Permissible Forms of Work During Shevi’it

In this Halacha and the next, we shall discuss the basic laws of tending to a garden during Shevi’it. We shall not discuss all of the details of these laws, for these laws do not apply to those residing outside of Israel. Works Forbidden by Torah Law and Rabbinic Enactment Some works forbi......

Read Halacha