The power of the human mind to effect a simulation of reality. Someone who is blind, or for another reason cannot tell what direction to face during prayer, is instructed to “incline the heart” that is, mentally direct prayer to “Avinu Sh’bashamyim” – our Father in Heaven. Outside the Land of Israel, directing that prayer towards Israel. If inside Israel, towards Jerusalem. If in Jerusalem towards the Sanctuary. If on the Sanctuary (the Temple Mount) then towards the Holy of Holies. If at the Holy of Holies then towards the Mercy Seat. If behind the Mercy Seat, imagine oneself to be in front of the Mercy Seat. “In this way all Israel will be turning their hearts towards one place.”
I love the image of all the Jews in the world, in prayer, facing towards a single spot: the axis mundi linking Heaven and Earth. A circle of human awareness facing revolving around the central spoke. Even those who are not physically able to turn, imagine themselves to be. Imagination, Intention and Reality merge in prayer – and we are all united. Far from being a solitary experience, prayer is unifying – even in imagination.