Aug 29, 2017

Interesting Psak: facing the wrong direction at the Kotel

I have heard the claim that the direction in which most people pray by the Kotel, that is most people pray in front of the Kotel standing with their faces facing straight ahead, is some sort of proof that the area under the Dome of the Rock is not the actual site of the Kodesh Kodashim. If it were, we would be praying at an angle directing ourselves towards the Dome. Because we pray straight and not angled, clearly the actual site was further south, opposite the area of our Kotel.

I don't think that is much of a proof as naturally most people will always daven straight when facing a wall. I have seen it in shuls in which the angles are wrong and the aron kodesh is off to the side but people still daven straight ahead. It is natural positioning.

This has now turned into the subject a psak.

Rav Avraham Kahana, one of the rabbonim of The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, has issued a psak that the masses of Jews praying at the Kotel have been facing the wrong direction and should instead angle themselves more towards the Northeast and will thereby actually be facing the site of the Kodesh Kodashim.

Rav Kahan brings various proofs as to the necessity to daven in the correct direction and therefor concludes as to the importance of angling oneself properly when at the Kotel.

Rav Kahan is "melamed zchus" on the masses who daven facing straight ahead with two points:
1. the Yerushalmi says that in jerusalem one should direct himself towards Har Habayit (i.e. rather than specifically the Kodesh Kodashim)
2. bdiavad one can rely on the fact that the Divine Presence is everywhere no matter which direction one faces.
Source: Srugim

I am happy he found a way to be melamed zchus and qualified his psak with that. Personally I don't like it when any person or rabbi comes out and says everybody else is wrong.

Also, I think nowadays with almost everyone facing that direction, even if it is not accurate, it might be a problem of "poresh min hatzibbur" to face a different direction.

And, I must wonder when the opposing piskei halacha will be issued, with fights over whether or not we know where the actual site of the Kodesh Kodashim is and what direction we must face as a result of that knowledge or lack of knowledge.


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1 comment:

  1. You're probably right. The point of facing is to reinforce the sense of standing before the Shechina, and thinking about a "maybe" would diminish the "definite."


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