web analytics
August 21, 2014 / 25 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Q & A: “Kiddush Levanah, Verses Repeated Three Times” (Part I)

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)

Answer: Your point about the name of the prayer is well taken. I assume you took your cue from the conclusion of the blessing that serves as the core of Kiddush Levanah: “Baruch Ata…mechadesh chadashim – Blessed are You Hashem who renews the new moons.” If we were reciting a prayer about sanctifying the new moon, the blessing would have read mekadesh chadashim – who sanctifies the new moons.”

Why, then, is the prayer called Kiddush Levanah? Rabbi Yosef Grossman, zt”l (Otzar Erchei HaYahadut, p. 421), explains that it is “called [Kiddush Levanah] because of Kiddush Hachodesh (the sanctification of the new moon), which would come about through the testimony of witnesses who would attest before beit din to seeing [the new moon].”

You are also correct in assuming that we are pleased to see the return of a new moon since the moon forms the basis for the Jewish year. The renewal of the moon is so important that, in his very first comment on the Bible, Rashi asks why the Torah does not begin with Kiddush Hachodesh, which was the first mitzvah given to the Jewish people. The Torah should have started with Exodus 12:1-2: “Vayomer Hashem el Moshe ve’el Aharon be’eretz Mitzrayim lemor, Hachodesh hazeh lachem rosh chodashim, rishon hu lachem lechodshei hashanah – Hashem said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying: This month is to be for you the beginning of months, it shall be for you the first of the months of the year.”

Since the essence of the Torah is the commandments, beginning the Torah with a mitzvah would seem to make sense. It’s true that Genesis contains several mitzvot – such as the command to be fruitful and multiply, to circumcise one’s son on the eighth day after his birth, and to refrain from eating the sinew of an animal’s thigh – but Hashem could have moved these mitzvot to Sefer Shemot along with the other commandments and started the Torah with Kiddush Hachodesh.

Siftei Chachamim explains that Rashi means to say that the Torah did not have to include all the historical accounts of our forefathers. They could have appeared in a separate historical volume similar to the historical books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, etc. (In truth, the history of the world from creation already appears in Divrei HaYamim which could have sufficed.)

Kiddush Hachodesh is a most important mitzvah. As we see in both the first and second chapter of Tractate Rosh Hashanah, extreme care was given to the proper timing and proclamation of rosh chodesh. Based on witnesses’ testimony, the declaration of the new month was crucial for the proper functioning of the Jewish calendar, which is based on the monthly lunar cycle.

All biblical references to the festivals are based on the timing of the months. Pesach arrives on the 15th of Nissan (the first month), and Shavuot follows 49 days later. Rosh Hashanah arrives on the first day of the seventh month (Tishrei), Yom Hakippurim on the tenth day of that same month, and Sukkot on the 15th.

All the festivals, however, must also occur during their proper seasons. Pesach, for example, must be observed in the spring. Since the seasons follow the solar cycle of 365 days while the Jewish year follows the lunar cycle of 354 days, a formula was instituted to synchronize the solar and lunar years. Ibn Ezra (Exodus 12:1) explains this in great detail.

Rashi (ad loc.) quotes the Mechilta (Shemot Rabbah) which states that G-d actually showed Moses the exact shape of the moon that one must see to declare a new moon. The Gemara (Menachot 29a) explains that a tanna of the school of R. Yishmael taught that three matters remained difficult for Moses until G-d specifically showed them to him with His finger. All three include the word “zeh” (“this”): the menorah in the Holy Temple, as it says (Numbers 8:4), “And this is the workmanship of the candelabra”; rosh chodesh, as it says (Exodus 12:2), “This month is to be for you”; and sheratzim as it says (Leviticus 11:29), “And this shall be for you unclean.”

Others add even a fourth mitzvah: ritual slaughtering, as it says (Exodus 29:38), “And this is what you shall offer upon the altar.” Rashi (Menachot 29a) explains that concerning all these mitzvot, Moses was not able to figure out how to do the mitzvah properly until Hashem showed him.

The Mishnah (Rosh Hashana 24a) tells us that based on what Moses saw – and what was subsequently handed down from generation to generation – Rabban Gamliel fashioned a picture of the moon in its various phases and would ask witnesses who claimed to see the new moon, “Did you see such or did you see such?” as a means of ascertaining whether they had indeed see the new moon. Thus, we see that the mitzvah of sanctifying the new month contains such exact specifications that Moses only fully understood it after G-d showed him the new moon.

(To be continued)

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, Verses Repeated Three Times” (Part I)”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
landingt Schedule Aug 21 2014
Live Update: Despite Hamas Threats, Planes Landing at B-G Airport (Last Update: 7:13am)
Latest Judaism Stories
Azrielli Tower - Shema Yisrael

A bit of (non-Jewish) history can help us understand this week’s Torah portion: In the early 1500s, the Catholic church was being fundamentally challenged by movements which claimed it had monopolized religious power and used to enrich the church and its officials. The most radical of these movements were a particular sect of Anabaptists. Anabaptists […]

Leff-081514

“When a mother plays with her child there is an acute awareness of the child. But even when the mother works at a job or is distracted by some other activity, there is a natural, latent awareness of her child’s existence.

Business-Halacha-logo

“Guess what?” Benzion exclaimed when he returned home. “I just won an identical Mishnah Berurah in the avos u’banim raffle.”

The-Shmuz

While it’s clear to you and to me that a 14,000-pound creature can easily break away from the light ropes holding it, the reality is that it cannot.

An Outcast
‘He Shall Dwell Outside His Tent’
(Moed Katan 7b)

Question: The Gemara in Berachot states that the sages authored our prayers. Does that mean we didn’t pray beforehand?

Menachem
Via Email

Based on the opinion of the Ramban, the Territorial School believes that leaving any territory of the Land of Israel in the possession of non-Jews is a violation of a biblical mandate.

“But they told me to come in today,” she said. They gave me this date months ago. It’s not my fault if it’s the wrong day.”

Tosafos there takes issue with Rashi’s view that the letters that are formed in the knots of the tefillin are considered part of the name of Hashem.

Blind obedience is not a virtue in Judaism. God wants us to understand the laws He has commanded us

What does Hashem want of us? That we should protect each other and the awesome heritage He gave us.

Israel is the only place where we have the potential to fulfill our mandate as the chosen people.

The innkeeper smiled and replied, “Why do you think we are dancing? We are dancing because G-d destroyed the Bais HaMikdash!”

One of the manifestations of the immature person is a sense of entitlement.

More Articles from Rabbi Yaakov Klass
(L-R) Rabbis Tzvi Mandel, Akiva Stolper, Meir Borovetz, Yochanan Ivri and Shlomo Rizel. (Not shown: Rabbi Shmaya Modes.)

A CPE class at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn was tailor made for Orthodox participants.

Questions-Answers-logo

Question: The Gemara in Berachot states that the sages authored our prayers. Does that mean we didn’t pray beforehand?

Menachem
Via Email

Question: The Gemara in Berachot states that the sages authored our prayers. Does that mean we didn’t pray beforehand?

Menachem
(Via E-Mail)

Question: I recently returned from a trip abroad and wanted to say HaGomel. When I mentioned this to the officers of my synagogue, however, they told me – as per the instructions of the synagogue’s rabbi – that I would have to wait until Shabbos to do so. I was not given any reason for this and did not wish to display my ignorance, so I quietly acquiesced. Can you please explain why I had to wait?

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

Question: I recently returned from a trip abroad and wanted to say HaGomel. When I mentioned this to the officers of my synagogue, however, they told me – as per the instructions of the synagogue’s rabbi – that I would have to wait until Shabbos to do so. I was not given any reason for this and did not wish to display my ignorance, so I quietly acquiesced. Can you please explain why I had to wait?

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-kiddush-levanah-verses-repeated-three-times-part-i/2013/06/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: