A Wedding Dance
‘It Should Be Said While Standing…’
R. Acha b Chaninah said in the name of R. Assi, citing R. Yochanan, that a person who blesses the new month (says Kiddush Levanah) in its proper time (the first part of the month) is considered to have welcomed the Divine Presence.
Tanna d’bei R. Yishmael emphasize the importance of this mitzvah by stating that it would have been sufficient if this mitzvah were the only one we were ever given. Since this mitzvah is so great, Abaye notes that we must stand when reciting it.
Abaye’s statement is perplexing. The general rule is that all birkos ha’mitzvos – e.g., for sefiras ha’omer, lulav, shofar, megillah – must be said while standing. What new halacha is Abaye teaching us?
Margaliyos Hayam (ad loc.) rules that birkos ha’nehenin – blessings for things we derive pleasure from – are different. For these blessings, we can sit. A person might reason that we derive plesure from the moon’s light and threfore can say Kiddush Levana while sitting. Therefore, Abaye teaches us that since we must recite Kiddush Levanah at a specific time (as noted by R. Acha b. Chanina), it is considered, not a birkas ha’nehenin, but a birkas mitzvah.
An Important Mitzvah
Mereimar and Mar Zutra, two elderly sages, regarded Kiddush Levana so highly that they had others carry them out and support them as they recited it. Yad Rama (ad. loc.) explains that the Gemara’s term “mekasfi” (lit., “were being shouldered”) means they were carried out on their attendants’ shoulders.
The Bach (O.C. 426), though, explains that they were placed shoulder to shoulder. Instead of reciting Kiddush Levanah privately, they would, as a sign of respect, recite it together as if they were gathered en masse to greet a king. The Bach adds that for this reason we recite Kiddush Levanah under the open sky; we are going out to greet the king, Hashem. He does, however, permit an ill person to recite Kiddush Levanah indoors while looking through a window.
The Meiri (ad. loc.) interprets “mekasfi” to mean that they jumped while reciting Kiddush Levanah. The Rema (O.C. ad. loc.) develops this interpretation further, suggesting that they would dance. He explains that the Jewish people in galus are likened to Hashem’s estranged wife. The new moon signifies that we will ultimately be privileged to renew our marriage and return to Hashem. Therefore, we rejoice and dance as we anticipate the renewal of our marriage vows and the resultant wedding celebration.