web analytics
March 5, 2015 / 14 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Q & A: Kiddush Levanah, Repeating Verses Three Times (Part IV)


QuestionsandAnswers-logo

Question: I have numerous questions about Kiddush Levanah. First, why is this prayer called Kiddush Levanah? Shouldn’t it be called Chiddush Levanah considering that the prayer concerns the renewal – not the sanctification – of the moon? Second, why do we greet each other with the words Shalom Aleichem at Kiddush Levanah and why do we repeat the greeting three times? Is it because we have not seen a new moon for a whole month? Third, why does Kiddush Levanah – and other prayers – contain verses (aside from the Shalom Aleichem greeting) that we are supposed to say three times? Please elaborate on this mitzvah.

Ira Warshansky
(Via E-Mail)

Summary of our response up to this point: The blessing that serves as the core of Kiddush Levanah is “Baruch Ata…mechadesh chadashim – Blessed are You Hashem who renews the new moons.”

We stated that the moon forms the basis of the Jewish calendar, which revolves around the lunar cycle. Extreme care was given to the timing and proclamation of rosh chodesh in the Temple era since the dates of all the festivals follow from it.

Rashi writes that G-d actually showed Moses the exact shape of the moon that witnesses must see for beit din to declare a new month. We thus learn that the mitzvah of sanctifying the month contains such exacting specifications that only after G-d personally gave a demonstration did Moses fully grasp it.

Rashi on Sanhedrin 42a explains that the mitzvah of Kiddush Levanah is so great that it alone is sufficient to sustain us each month. We looked at various parts of the prayer added over the years, including several phrases that we repeat three times, such as the greeting “Shalom Aleichem.”

The Levush says that “Shalom Aleichem” signifies that greeting another Jew is in harmony with greeting the Divine Presence; thus we symbolically turn from G-d to greet our fellow. The Lechem Yehudah explains that it refers to the harmony between the sun and the moon. They once shined equally until the moon protested that two kings cannot share one crown. Although G-d then diminished the moon, it still dutifully performs its nighttime task. It is as if the moon is greeting the sun in a sign of harmony.

The Perisha explains that we repeat “Shalom Aleichem” three times because we previously cursed our enemies with “Tipol aleihem.” We want to assure our friends that we do not wish this curse upon them; on the contrary, we seek their peace.

Last week we discussed why we repeat “Shalom Aleichem” three times and looked at several other examples of triple repetitions. The point of all of them is to add significance and emphasis. For example, Exodus 15:18 states, “Hashem yimloch le’olam va’ed – G-d will reign forever and ever.” Onkelos translates this phrase as “Hashem malchutei ka’im le’alam u’le’almei almaya – The reign of G-d is eternal, forever and ever,” which expresses everlasting eternity, without interruption.

* * * * *

There are other reasons for repeating “Shalom Aleichem” three times during Kiddush Levanah. Bnei Yissas’char (Ma’amarim 4 and 5, Kiddush Hachodesh) writes: “According to the holy words of the Arizal, we say ‘Shalom Aleichem’ three times after reciting birkat ha’levanah because the very first kitrug [denouncement, which is the diametric opposite of shalom (harmony)] was caused by the moon, who said (Chullin 60b): ‘It is impossible for two kings to wear one crown.’ The moon was then ordered to diminish itself in size.

“However, as a consolation, the Gemara states that G-d told the moon that just like it is sometimes referred to as the small luminary – ‘ha’maor hakatan’ – so too righteous men shall sometimes be called ‘small.’ Thus we find that our Patriarch Jacob is called katan (Amos 7:2, referring to the Jewish nation), we have Shmuel Hakatan (the Tanna Samuel), and David (I Samuel 17:14), who was the katan among his brothers.” Bnei Yissas’char states that these three instances serve as further reason for the triple repetition of “Shalom Aleichem.”

He continues: “Now our blessing for the moon is that its blemish be repaired, and it restored to its wholeness, so that the light of the moon [once again] matches the light of the sun, resulting in the original harmony [at the time of creation]. 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, though, not completely satisfied with the above answer, asks again: Why do we specifically recite the verses three times? He answers as follows: “It is written (Psalms 119:165), ‘Shalom rav le’ohavei toratecha ve’ein lamo michshol – Manifold peace to the lovers of Your Torah, and 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 [lit. rav], the plural count, refers to three. The verse actually means that when shalom 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 to ensure that we don’t encounter any stumbling blocks during the new month.

Bnei Yissas’char also points out that Tanach calls the moon by three different names: 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 (found in this discussion as well as in Ma’amar Kislev 13). He suggests that we say “Shalom Aleichem” three times for the three fundamental mitzvot: Kiddush Hachodesh, Shabbat, and Milah. (It was these three mitzvot whose observance the Syrian Greeks attempted to squash, and thus, all Torah observance – see Megillat Antiochus.)

Interestingly, we conclude Kiddush Levanah with the prayer of “Aleinu Leshabe’ach,” the same prayer that concludes Shacharit, Minchah, and Ma’ariv. Rabbi Yisrael Chaim Friedman of Rachov (Likutei Mahariach, order of Rosh Chodesh) explains that we do so because it is well known that Joshua composed this prayer of thanks upon conquering Jericho, and our Sages (in Bava Batra 75a) compare Moses and Joshua to the sun and moon, respectively. The face of Moses – the teacher – is compared to the sun, and the face of Joshua, – his student and thus his reflection – is compared to the moon.

Rabbi Friedman also offers another explanation. Since we “danced” before the moon during Kiddush Levanah, we may have accidentally given the impression that we were – heaven forbid! – praying to the moon. We therefore conclude with “Aleinu Leshabe’ach” which clearly indicates, without leaving any doubt, that our entire prayer was to “Adon Ha’kol – the Master of all [creation].”

With the Likutei Mahariach’s explanation, we can now also understand why we conclude each of our three daily prayers with Aleinu. We want to confirm that each and every word that we prayed from the outset of that prayer was directed only to G-d.

In concluding, I would like to note that the Aleinu prayer itself contains a triple repetition: “shelo asanu k’go’yei ha’aratzot – that He has not made us like the nations of the earth,” “shelo asanu k’mishpechot ha’adamah – that He has not made us like families of the earth,” and “shelo sam chelkeinu kahem ve’goralenu k’chal hamonam – that He has not made our portion like theirs, nor our lot like their multitudes.” All three verses are basically making the same statement: that G-d has chosen us and given us a standing unique among all the nations, from our very beginning and for all eternity.

What a beautiful prayer with which to conclude a prayer that beckons our souls to cleave to Hashem, repeatedly, every single month, as we await our final deliverance with great anticipation, 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 Levanah, Repeating Verses Three Times (Part IV)”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Iran's Bushehr nuclear facility.
US Secy of State Kerry Says ‘Demanding Iran Capitulate is Not a Plan’
Latest Judaism Stories
Ki Tisa_lecture

Over and over, the text tells us about “keeping” Shabbat, about holiness, and a covenant – but why?

Aaron and  The Golden Calf by James Tissot

Aharon’s guilt with the golden calf is not clear-cut. What if Moshe were in his brother’s place?

Rabbi Sacks

The Sabbath is a full dress rehearsal for an ideal society that has not yet come to pass-but will

When Hashem told Moshe of the option to destroy the people and make him and his descendants into a great nation, Hashem was telling Moshe that it is up to him.

Just like Moses and Aaron, Mordechai decides to ruin the party…

An Auto Accident
‘All Agree That They Are Exempt’
(Kesubbos 35a)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Why would the exemption of women from donating the half shekel exempt them from davening Musaf?

This concept should be very relevant to us as we, too, should be happy beyond description.

The Holocaust was the latest attempt of Amalek to destroy the special bond that we enjoy with God.

One can drink up to the Talmud’s criterion to confuse Mordechai and Haman-but not beyond.

“The voice is the voice of Yaakov, but the hands are the hands of Esav” gives great insight to Purim

Purim is the battleground of extremes, Amalek and Yisrael, with Zoroastrian Persia in between.

One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset.

The mishloach manos of times gone by were sometimes simple and sometimes elaborate, but the main focus was on the preparation of the delicious food they contained.

More Articles from Rabbi Yaakov Klass
Q-A-Klass-logo

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Q-A-Klass-logo

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-kiddush-levanah-repeating-verses-three-times-part-iv/2013/07/17/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: