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In a 3 Dimensional geometric structure like a sphere, you can "stand" at any point 'A' and continuously be facing another point 'B' in question. You can stand on the beach of long island and be facing Japan. You can also turn around 180 degrees, facing away from Japan, with your back towards Japan and you will still be facing Japan ( via Pennsylvania > Oregon > The Pacific Ocean > Japan ).

In that case why can't we fulfil the requirement of facing Jerusalem, by turning towards ANY direction, since you can draw a line from your location to Jerusalem; under all possible geometric scenarios?

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    Similarly, why was anyone offended when Donald Trump turned his back on Queen Elizabeth II since he was really still facing her the long way?
    – Double AA
    Oct 16, 2022 at 16:27
  • See: chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/3502321/jewish/… where the article cites the Levush on Orach Chayim 94. - There are two potential ways to calculate the distance between two points on the globe. The first way is to project the globe’s surface onto a flat plane (Mercator map) and basically follow the straight line drawn on the map (“rhumb line” or “compass route”).
    – Shmuel
    Oct 17, 2022 at 17:07
  • See also Shulchan Aruch HaRav 94:2 here: chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/3299180/jewish/…
    – Shmuel
    Oct 17, 2022 at 17:12
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    I remind you that the Talmudic sages held that the Earth is flat (see Pesochim 94). So problem is solved.
    – Al Berko
    Oct 17, 2022 at 20:07
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    I don't get "ANY direction". In my understanding of geometry, there are only two positions to "face" any specific point on a sphere. If I stand in Tel Aviv, I can only face Jerusalem or 180 degrees, the rest of the positions don't intersect Jerusalem.
    – Al Berko
    Oct 17, 2022 at 20:11

2 Answers 2

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If you are standing twenty kilometer south from Jerusalem, and you turn to east, you will never hit Jerusalem. Geometrically, from any point A toward point B, the are only two valid directions, with 180 degrees between them, unless you stand exactly on the opposite pole of the sphere (eg point A on the north pole, point b on the south pole). Just use the shortest path so your prayer will get to its destination ASAP :)

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Firstly, prayer in any direction is accepted. If you mistakenly don’t face East, it’s not the end of the world.

Second, we face Jerusalem through the shortest distance possible. If you’re in New York, you face East (yes, you can technically face west and be facing Jerusalem, but it’s a much greater distance than facing East so therefore we face East)

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