web analytics
November 24, 2014 / 2 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Q & A: Kiddush Levana (Conclusion)


QuestionsandAnswers-logo

QUESTION: Why do we say Shalom Aleichem at Kiddush Levana, when we bless the new moon, and why do we do so three times? Is it because we have not seen a new moon for a whole month? Can you explain a little more about this mitzva?
Ira Warshansky
Philadelphia, PA
ANSWER: Last week we discussed the biblical source of the mitzva of Rosh Chodesh, the first commandment given to the Jews as a nation. The correct timing of the months is important because of the necessity to keep the holidays in their proper seasons. To ensure the accurate understanding of the beginning of the month, G-d Himself showed Moses an example of the new moon. Finally, mention was made of the fact that the verses in the liturgy of the blessing of the new moon are recited three times.

* * *

We find a reference to a triple repetition of terms in Parashat Beshalach (Exodus 15:18), where it states, “Hashem yimloch le’olam va’ed ? G-d will reign forever and ever.”

Onkelos, in his Aramaic commentary-augmented translation, states, “Hashem malchutei ka’im le’alam u’le’almei almaya,” which is translated as “The reign of G-d is eternal, forever and ever.” We thus find in his translation a three-fold repetition of the word alam to express everlasting eternity.

Similarly, we find in the commentary Avi Ezer (loc. cit.) a similar triple repetition when he states that any time the words netzach, selah, and va’ed are mentioned, this denotes something that is without interruption. “Le’olam u’le’almei almaya” provides that meaning.The Gemara (Sanhedrin 81b) cites R. Shimon b. Gamaliel whose view is inconsistent with the Mishna (ibid.) which states that one who had been lashed twice, and he sinned again, is given the severe punishment of a forced diet of barley bread (which results in death). R. Shimon b. Gamaliel rules that such a behavior pattern is only established by three separate offenses.

Indeed, that is how Rambam (Hilchot Sanhedrin 18:5) understands it, stating, “If he yet again, a third time, violated a  karet prohibition and was warned, he is condemned to be fed barley bread until he expires.” Rambam stresses that he is given three warnings, and only after the third unheeded violation is capital punishment applicable.

We find another instance (Yoreh De’ah 228:3) of repeating something thrice: “hatara,” the nullification of vows. The Beit Din nullifies vows by pronouncing three times either “mutar lach” (it is permissible to you), “sharei lach” (a similar meaning), or “machul lach” (it is forgiven to you).

The Shach (ad loc.) explains the three times as being solely for the purpose of underscoring that point, but that as a matter of strict halacha, once would suffice.

The Talmud (Yoma 85b, Mishna) states “… [regarding] sins between man and his fellow man, Yom Hakippurim does not atone until he asks his fellow’s forgiveness.”

The Gemara (87a) then quotes R. Hisda, who requires the sinner to ask forgiveness before three groups of three people each. R. Yosi b. Hanina states that whoever asks forgiveness of his fellow man should not do so more than three times (if the latter remains unappeased).

Indeed, the Mechaber (Orach Chayyim 606:1) rules accordingly. He teaches that after three such pleadings which have been ignored, the offender no longer bears any iniquity, and Yom Kippur will surely atone.

There are other reasons for repeating Shalom Aleichem three times during Kiddush Levana. Bnei Yissas’char (Ma’amarim 4 and 5, Kiddush Hachodesh) states: “According to the holy words of the Arizal, we say Shalom Aleichem three times after reciting birkat ha’levana because the very first kitrug (denouncement, which is exactly the opposite of shalom,  harmony) was caused by the moon, which said (Chullin 60b): ‘It is impossible for two kings to wear one crown.’ The moon was then ordered to diminish itself in size. As a consolation, the Gemara states that G-d told the moon that righteous men shall be named in reference to the moon, the small luminary (hama’or hakatan). Thus we find that our Patriarch Jacob is called katan (Amos 7:2, referring to the Jewish nation), we have Shemuel hakatan (the Tanna Shemuel), and David (I Samuel 17:14), who was the katan among his brothers. This is another reference to the number three.”

“Now our blessing for the moon is that the blemish (in its light) should be repaired so that it will be restored to its wholeness, and thus the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun, resulting in a restoration of harmony. Thus, as the prophet Isaiah states (11:6), “Vegar ze’ev im keves ve’namer im gedi yirbatz - The wolf shall dwell with the sheep and the leopard with the kid.” Therefore, at the blessing of the moon, we say to each other ‘Shalom Aleichem – peace be unto you.’” This concludes the Arizal’s statement, as discussed by Bnei Yissas’char.

Bnei Yissas’char then asks: “Why do we specifically recite the verses three times? It is written (Psalms 119:165): ‘Shalom rav le’ohavei toratecha ve’ein lamo michshol - Manyfold peace to the lovers of Your Torah; they shall not encounter any stumbling blocks.’ This is in accord with
what our sages (Gittin 46a) state: ‘yamim’ (days) refers to two, whereas the term ‘rabbim’ (many) refers to three. Therefore the use of ‘ribbuy,’ the plural count, refers to three. The verse actually means that when shalom (harmony) is recited many times, [at least] three, no stumbling block will be encountered.”

Therefore, at the monthly renewal of the moon, we say Shalom Aleichem three times in order that there be no stumbling block for us during the new month.

Bnei Yissas’char points out the three names of the moon found in the Tanach: yare’ach, levana, and sahar. This too serves as a reason to recite Shalom Aleichem three times, once for each of the moon’s names.

We find yet another explanation in Bnei Yissas’char (Ma’amar Kislev 13, as well as in our ma’amar). He mentions the three fundamental mitzvot: Chodesh Kiddush Hachodesh, through which we count our months and proclaim our festivals), Shabbat and milah (all the mitzvot whose observance the Syrian Greeks attempted to void and thus eliminate all Torah observance – see Megillat Antiochus).

Thus these three mitzvot serve as yet another reason for our saying “Shalom Aleichem” three times.

We can see that there are numerous reasons for our repeating these special phrases three times. We do so every month, as we await our final deliverance, speedily in our days.

About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Q & A: Kiddush Levana (Conclusion)”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
France Jew in a French synagogue talks about rising anti-Semitism.
Israel to Ease Absorption, Employment for Immigrants from France
Latest Judaism Stories
Rabbi Avi Weiss

Yitzchak thought the Jewish people needed dual leadership: Eisav the physical; Yaakov the spiritual

Weiss-112114-Sufganiot

According to the Sefer Yetzirah, the nature of the month of Kislev is sleep.

Teller-Rabbi-Hanoch-NEW

Though braggarts come across as conceited, their boasting often reflects a low sense of self-regard

Nimchinsky-112114-Learning

Not every child can live up to our hopes or expectations, but every child is loved by Hashem.

Leaders must always pay attention to the importance of timing.

While our leaders have been shepherds, the vast majority of the Children of Israel were farmers.

Maimonides himself walked and prayed in the permissible areas when he visited Eretz Yisrael in 1165

If a man dies childless, the Torah commands the deceased’s brother to marry his brother’s widow in a ceremony known as yibum, or to perform a special form of divorce ceremony with her known as chalitzah.

Dovid turned to the other people sitting at his table. “I’m revoking my hefker of the Chumash,” he announced. “I want to keep it.”

Ever Vigilant
‘When Unworthy, One’s Number Of Years Is Reduced’
(Yevamos 50a)

Question: My young daughter was recently diagnosed with autism. She does not function well socially and is extremely introverted, but we have noticed that she reacts very well to small animals. We reported this to her therapist who suggested that we get a dog or cat as a pet. We know that most religious people frown upon having pets, but we hate to see our daughter suffer and want to do anything that would make her happy. Would it be okay to own a pet in the circumstances we described?

Her Loving Parents
(Via E-Mail)

Ramban interprets Korban as self-sacrifice, each Jew should attempt to recreate Akeidas Yitzchak.

Dr. Schwartz had no other alternatives up his sleeve. He suggested my mother go home and think about what she wanted to do.

Why does Lavan’s speaking before his father show that he was wicked? Disrespectful, yes. Rude, certainly. But a rasha?

We find that in certain circumstances before the Torah was actually given, people were permitted to make calculations as to what would better serve Hashem, even if it were against a mitzvah or aveirah.

More Articles from Rabbi Yaakov Klass
QuestionsandAnswers-logo

Question: My young daughter was recently diagnosed with autism. She does not function well socially and is extremely introverted, but we have noticed that she reacts very well to small animals. We reported this to her therapist who suggested that we get a dog or cat as a pet. We know that most religious people frown upon having pets, but we hate to see our daughter suffer and want to do anything that would make her happy. Would it be okay to own a pet in the circumstances we described?

Her Loving Parents
(Via E-Mail)

Question: My young daughter was recently diagnosed with autism. She does not function well socially and is extremely introverted, but we have noticed that she reacts very well to small animals. We reported this to her therapist who suggested that we get a dog or cat as a pet. We know that most religious people frown upon having pets, but we hate to see our daughter suffer and want to do anything that would make her happy. Would it be okay to own a pet in the circumstances we described?

Her Loving Parents
(Via E-Mail)

Question: My young daughter was recently diagnosed with autism. She does not function well socially and is extremely introverted, but we have noticed that she reacts very well to small animals. We reported this to her therapist who suggested that we get a dog or cat as a pet. We know that most religious people frown upon having pets, but we hate to see our daughter suffer and want to do anything that would make her happy. Would it be okay to own a pet in the circumstances we described?

Her Loving Parents
(Via E-Mail)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-kiddush-levana-conclusion/2003/12/03/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: