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Kiddush Levana II

 

By: Rabbi Ari Enkin

Although technically Kiddush Levana may be recited upon the first sighting of the new moon,[1] common custom is never to do so. Most people wait at least 3 days, 72 full hours, after the appearance of the new moon before reciting Kiddush Levana.[2] The deadline for reciting it is no later than 15 full days.[3] Some recommend waiting at least 7 days before reciting it.[4] In the month of Av it is best to recite Kiddush Levana only after Tisha B’av. In Tishrei, many have the custom to recite Kiddush Levana only after Yom Kippur has passed, while others explicitly do so before Yom Kippur, in order to have that mitzva added to their merits on the holy day.[5] Some wait until after the seventh of Adar to recite Kiddush Levana in that month.[6] 

One who has completely missed the deadline for Kiddush Levana should at least read the section of Gemara which discusses Kiddush Levana.[7] In this way one will have incidentally recited the blessing in the course of “study”. Alternatively, one may opt to recite the Kiddush Levana without mentioning God’s name in the blessing.[8] It is best not to recite Kiddush Levana on Shabbat as God’s Abode is outside the “Techum” the permitted distance that one is allowed to travel on Shabbat.[9] While one may recite Kiddush Levana alone, it is best recited in the presence of as many people as possible, preferably with at least a minyan.[10] 

Kiddush Levana may only be recited at night when the moon is dominant and one can derive benefit from its light.[11] It should not be recited if the moon is covered by heavy clouds,[12] though a slight cloud covering is acceptable as long as the moon is clearly visible.[13] Although Kiddush Levana should really be recited outdoors without any overhead covering,[14] in situations where this would be difficult it may be recited if the moon can be seen from one’s window.[15] One should not be lazy nor try to concoct excuses to exempt oneself from Kiddush Levana.[16]

One must be sure that there are no dog droppings or other unbecoming objects in the area where one recites Kiddush Levana.[17] It is taught that one should never stare at the moon unnecessarily.[18] There is a widespread custom to shake out and check one’s Tzitzit immediately following Kiddush Levana.[19] Among the reasons for this custom is to show our anticipation for the Messianic era when the mitzva of Tzitzit will apply at night. It is recommended for one to gaze at some silver coins or other monies after having recited Kiddush Levana.[20] Women are exempt from reciting Kiddush Levana,[21]as they are considered responsible for the moon’s monthly diminishing cycle.[22] Those who are blind are not required to recite Kiddush Levana.[23]

Kiddush Levana concludes with the Aleinu prayer which focuses on our faith and commitment to God, lest anyone get carried away to suggest that we were actually praying to the moon.[24] Indeed, we are not to stare at the moon any time during the recitation of Kiddush Levana but merely to glance at it prior to reciting the opening blessing.[25]  Aleinu is also recited to recall that it was composed by Yehoshua who is compared to the moon.[26] A mourner’s Kaddish should then be recited.[27] Those who have recited Kiddush Levana together should spend a few moments dancing afterwards, “similar to the celebrations of a wedding”.[28] It is taught that one who has recited Kiddush Levana will not die a ‘mita meshuna’ during that month.[29]

 


[1] Magen Avraham 426:13, Aruch Hashulchan 426:13, Shalmei Mo’ed Chapter 6

[2] Mishna Berura 426:20

[3] Rambam Berachot 10:17, O.C. 426:3, Mishna Berura 426:18,20

[4] O.C. 426:4

[5] Minhag Yisrael Torah 426:4

[6] Minhag Yisrael Torah 426:5

[7] Sanhedrin 42a

[8] Minhag Yisrael Torah 426:13

[9] Ta’amei Haminhagim 454

[10] Magen Avraham 426:6

[11] Rema 426:1, Mishna Berura 426:2, Aruch Hashulchan 426:5

[12] Mishna Berura 426:3

[13] Magen Avraham O.C. 426:1

[14] Rema 426:4

[15] Mishna Berura 426:21, Kaf Hachaim 426:63

[16] Orchot Chaim of the Rosh 54

[17] Kaf Hachaim 426:64

[18] Be’er Heitev 426:6

[19] Kaf Hachaim 426:48, Minhag Yisrael Torah 426:10

[20] Kaf Hachaim 426:49

[21] Mishna Berura 426:1, Ha’isha V’hamitzvot Vol. 1

[22] Shraga Hameir 4:12

[23] Aruch Hashulchan 426:14

[24] Biur Halacha 426

[25] Mishna Berura 426:13, Sha’ar Hatziun 14

[26] Minhag Yisrael Torah O.C. 426:8

[27] Minhag Yisrael Torah O.C. 426:9

[28] Rema O.C. 426:2

[29] Eliya Rabba 602

 
 
The opinions and facts here are presented solely by the author. Torah Musings assumes no responsibility for them. Please address religious questions to your rabbi.
 

20 Responses

  1. Abba's Rantings says:

    “Aleinu is also recited to recall that it was composed by Yehoshua who is compared to the moon.[26]”

    why is he compared to the moon?
    if i were looking for a connection, i would think of ירח בעמק אילון

    “It is taught that one who has recited Kiddush Levana will not die a ‘mita meshuna’ during that month.[29]”

    presumably this is false?

  2. Ari Enkin says:

    Abba-

    1. The identification of Yehoshua with the moon is from the saying “Moshe k’pnei hachama v’yehoshua k’pnei halevana”

    2. Obviously it is not scientific. It is a ‘teaching’.

    Ari Enkin

  3. avi says:

    Why is it that with all these preparations to prevent anyone from thinking that we are praying to the moon, everytime I witness Kidush Lavana I think that the group is praying to the moon?

    Normally, acts to prevent the appearance of something actually work. In this case, they seem to do the exact opposite.

  4. avi says:

    In case examples are needed. The fact that we say Aleinu aftewards, makes this seem like a unique prayer service of it’s own. (not just a single bracha or mitzvah) The fact that we say the prayer service outside, suggests that the object of our directed prayers is outside, and not towards “hamakom Hashem” in Jerusulem as usual.
    The fact that we greet people, and search for the moon before praying, and then dance infront of it like at a wedding, suggests that we are anthropomophising for the moon and making sure it sees us, so it can be accept our prayers.

    The easiest way to make it look like we aren’t praying to the moon, would be to go outside or find a window, look, go back inside, and make the brachot facing Mizrach as usual.

    I just don’t get it.

  5. Nachum says:

    Well, at the very least, most of the time people say Aleinu and Kaddish afterward facing east, whether or not that’s in the moon’s direction.

    I think you should say that Aleinu is *attributed* to Yehoshua. He almost certainly didn’t write it, especially considering that it contains pesukim from later Neviim, and was taken from Rosh Hashana Mussaf.

    The dancing, by the way, is done while singing “Tovim Meorot” through “Tzurat Halevana” from Kel Adon.

    I thought this was a bit far out:

    “God’s Abode is outside the “Techum””

    Is it? Where is His abode, physically?

    and then I saw this:

    “they are considered responsible for the moon’s monthly diminishing cycle”

    The cycle is the result of astronomical interplay. How would women be responsible? Isn’t it more logical to say that it’s a mitzvat aseh shehazeman grama?

  6. Ari Enkin says:

    Nachum-

    Re: The Techum-

    Obviously this is not literal. God is “in Heaven” we are on earth. The “distance” is greater than the permissible travel on Shabbat…hence, outside the techum.

    Re: Women and the moon-

    Related to Chava

    Re: Aleinu

    See my “Ramat Hashulchan” for lots on aleinu.

    Ari Enkin

  7. Gershon Rothstein says:

    While I always enjoy reading Rabbi Enkin’s halacha writing’s and learn a lot from them, I have one small comment that would make them better for me. The sources like Ta’amei Haminhagim and Minhag Yisroel Torah etc., are not really original sources for halacha. Rather, they are collections of minhagim and halachos found in various places and arranged by topic or by chapter in Shuchan Aruch. Thus citing them as a source does not add any information for me. If you were to cite the sources mentioned in these sefarim you would be providing the actual source of the halacha. In any case, I thank you for your valuable work and look forward to see it even better.

  8. Ari Enkin says:

    Thanks, Gershon!

    Ari Enkin

  9. Yitz says:

    Can you please elaborate on the meaning/purpose of repeating certain pesukim frontward and backward??

  10. Big Maybe says:

    Dog droppings are actually OK unless there’s a discernible bad odor. Sh”A O”C 89.

  11. Joseph Kaplan says:

    ““It is taught that one who has recited Kiddush Levana will not die a ‘mita meshuna’ during that month.[29]”

    presumably this is false?”

    “2. Obviously it is not scientific. It is a ‘teaching’.”

    Presumably a false teaching.

    “Re: Women and the moon-

    Related to Chava”

    How so?

  12. Y. Aharon says:

    Together with several other commentors, I have a problem with some portions of this 2nd post.
    “It is best not to recite Kiddush Levana on Shabbat as God’s Abode is outside the “Techum” the permitted distance that one is allowed to travel on Shabbat.” RAE

    Really? So you believe that ‘shamayim’ is a certain large physical distance from ‘eretz’ and that the deity’s residence is localized in ‘shamayim’. What about the ‘keil adon’ that we say on shabbat morning with the stanzas dealing with the heavenly bodies.?

    “Women are exempt from reciting Kiddush Levana,[21]as they are considered responsible for the moon’s monthly diminishing cycle.”

    Hmm! The ‘orbits’ of the sun and moon were fixed in the sky on the 4th ‘day’. Those positions relative to the earth is what determines the appearance of the moon to viewers on earth. Adam and, presumably, Chava, were created on the 6th ‘day’. How do you figure that Chava could have been responsible for the moon’s appearance, much less her female descendants?

    If women are excused from kiddush halevanah, then other reasons should be advanced such as the rabbis didn’t wish to make their suggested monthly practice more stringent than a positive torah command. Or, that they were concerned that unlearned women would take over this monthly ritual and bring it closer to moon worship.

    One aspect of the post that I can second is the quote:

    “Kiddush Levana concludes with the Aleinu prayer which focuses on our faith and commitment to God, lest anyone get carried away to suggest that we were actually praying to the moon.”

    It seems to me that the basic motivation for this ritual is the feeling of renewal that may come from gazing at the ‘developing’ moon soon after its reappearance from seeming oblivion, i.e., the major theme of the beracha that we make. I find that some of the other sentiments and procedures expressed in the nusach are more problematic. The statement about desiring the moon to shine as brightly as the sun should not be taken literally, else we would surely be roasted. The ritual of saying some passages 3 times including an inversion of one of those passages is too magical for my taste (I get by with just the 3-fold “David, melech Yisrael..” and “shalom aleichem”).

  13. avi says:

    “Really? So you believe that ‘shamayim’ is a certain large physical distance from ‘eretz’ and that the deity’s residence is localized in ‘shamayim’. What about the ‘keil adon’ that we say on shabbat morning with the stanzas dealing with the heavenly bodies.?”

    In general there seems to be a principle to not make requests during Shabbat. (even though later this rule was broken during Torah services) I would not be surprised if there is where the Tachum principle comes it, and it fits correctly with the Kiddush Lavana as presently written where requests are made.

  14. Shalom Spira says:

    Ye’yasher kochakem R. Enkin and respondents.
    Regarding the avoidance of Kiddush Levanah on Shabbat or Yom Tov, the Mishnah Berurah (in Sha’ar ha-Tziyun, se’if katan 12) explains that it is on account of dancing that frequently occurs after the completion of the Kiddush Levanah service.
    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=40448&st=&pgnum=184
    [Indeed, we even dance during Kiddush Levanah itself, but as explained in the first installment of this series, that dance merely consists of flexing one's toes.] I can testify that I have attended a number of Kiddush Levanah events (always on weeknights, of course) where the service was followed by a particularly leibidik dance. Our joint mentor R. Joshua Shmidman obm was quite fond of dancing after Kiddush Levanah.

  15. Shalom Spira says:

    To clarify the Eliyah Rabbah’s assertion regarding the allegedly protective merit of reciting Kiddush Levanah:

    Eliyah Rabbah advances two claims. Firstly, he reports in the name of “the pious Mahari” (-I admit I don’t know who this is) that once a Jew was accosted by bandits at night who sought to kill him. The Jew asked the bandits to allow him to perform one mitzvah before they would kill him, viz. Kiddush Levanah, as it happenned to be the correct time for Kiddush Levanah. Graciously, the bandits granted him this wish. While the Jew was dancing during Kiddush Levanah (-see my previous comment) the wind suddenly lifted the Jew off his dancing feet and miraculously transported the Jew out of the area, thus saving him from the bandits.
    Secondly, Eliyah Rabbah says “I have heard” (no source here provided) that one who recites Kiddush Levanah will be protected from death that month.

    Based on these two ideas, Eliyah Rabbah encourages one to follow the Levush who would recited Kiddush Levanah during Asseret Yemei Teshuvah, the idea being that every extra merit before the sealing of the judgment on Yom Kippur is a prudent idea.
    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=41130&st=&pgnum=363

    That said, some poskim disagree with Eliyah Rabbah and Levush, and indeed I recall that R. Shmidman always delayed Kiddush Levanah until after Yom Kippur.

  16. Shalom Spira says:

    Correction: when Eliyah Rabbah says “I have heard”, he is quoting the book Orach Chaim. [Ditto with the story heard from the pious Mahari.] Thank you.

  17. Nszyszko says:

    What is the reason for 7 days? Is it a kabbalah topic or based upon percentage of illumination of the moon?The molad we call out is molad memutza (average) and the real molad is sometimes earlier or later so there may be 7 days from the real molad and not the average molad?This motzai shabbos vayigash there were 7 days from the real molad but not from the average molad. Another problem is that the true full moon based upon the real molad occurs before the calculated full moon from the average molad? what to do . Please discuss if possible

  18. Ari Enkin says:

    N-

    I would have to look this all up before authoritatively answering, but yes, iy is based on kabbala.

    Regarding the molad: all pesak follows what we call molad as it is written in every luach.

    Ari Enkin

 
 

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