Halachic literature includes some discussion as to what the monthly recitation of Kiddush Levana truly represents. According to some, Kiddush Levana is an expression of appreciation to G-d for the creation of the moon.1 According to others, it is in appreciation for the benefit we derive from the moon’s light, similar to the blessing recited on foods.2 Some insist that both reasons are equally important and that therefore one should have both reasons in mind while reciting Kiddush Levana.3
It might be that the difference of opinion regarding the earliest that one may recite Kiddush Levana each month is based upon this disagreement. According to some authorities, one is permitted to recite Kiddush Levana immediately upon the appearance of the new moon. This is true even though it is not possible to enjoy or derive any benefit from the light of the moon on the first night of its renewal. This approach seems to support the view that Kiddush Levana is simply intended to thank G-d for the creation of the moon.
According to most other authorities, however, one may not recite Kiddush Levana until at least three days have passed since the appearance of the new moon, because before this time has passed, not enough of the moon is visible to allow one to derive any significant benefit from its light. This approach supports the view that Kiddush Levana is inherently connected to the benefit that mankind derives from the moon’s light. The halacha is in accordance with this view.
Accordingly, one should not recite Kiddush Levana before the three days (72 hours) have passed from the appearance of the new moon,4 but one who recited it before this time is not required to repeat it after three days have passed.5 For kabbalistic reasons, some authorities require waiting seven days from the appearance of the new moon before reciting Kiddush Levana.6 The absolute deadline for reciting Kiddush Levana is no later than 15 full days from the appearance of the new moon. Since this time is difficult to discern, one should be sure to consult a halachic calendar before reciting Kiddush Levana this late in the month.7
In the month of Adar, some wait until after the seventh of the month to recite Kiddush Levana.8 Most authorities recommend that in the month of Av one should not recite Kiddush Levana until after Tisha B’Av. Those who recite Kiddush Levana at the conclusion of Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av should be sure to first eat something and preferably change into regular shoes before doing so.9 While many have the custom to recite Kiddush Levana only after Yom Kippur,10 others explicitly do so before Yom Kippur, in order to have the mitzvah of Kiddush Levana added to their list of merits in advance of the holy day.11
Kiddush Levana may only be recited at night when the moon is dominant and one can derive benefit from its light.12 It should not be recited if the moon is covered by heavy clouds,13 though a slight cloud covering is acceptable as long as the moon is clearly visible.14 In an emergency, it may be recited after dawn as long as it is before sunrise.15 Although Kiddush Levana should be recited outdoors, without any overhead covering,16 under extenuating circumstances it may be recited indoors from one’s window if the moon can be clearly seen.17
One should be particular to recite Kiddush Levana in a timely and scrupulous manner each month.18 Rebbe Nachman teaches that reciting Kiddush Levana is a segula for curing weak eyesight.19
- Birkei Yosef, OC 426:4.
- See Maharsha to Rashi, Sanhedrin 42a.
- See Sefer Yehoshua 14.
- Mishna Berura 426:20.
- Magen Avraham 426:13; Aruch Hashulchan, OC 426:13; Shalmei Moed, chapter 6.
- OC 426:4.
- Rambam, Hilchot Berachot 10:17; OC 426:3; Mishna Berura 426:18, 20; Yabia Omer 8:42.
- Minhag Yisrael Torah, OC 426:5.
- Mishna Berura 426:11. See also Be’er Heitev 551:8. According to most authorities, it is better to recite Kiddush Levana with a minyan without shoes rather than to do so in private with shoes.
- Rema, OC 426:2.
- Biur Halacha 426, s.v. “V’lo kodem”; Minhag Yisrael Torah, OC 426:4.
- Rema, OC 426:1, Mishna Berura 426:2, Aruch Hashulchan, OC 426:5.
- Mishna Berura 426:3.
- Magen Avraham, OC 426:1. See Moreh B’etzba 6:184, who is exceedingly strict with this.
- Yabia Omer 5:36.
- Rema, OC 426:4.
- Mishna Berura 426:21; Kaf Hachaim, OC 426:63.
- Orchot Chaim of the Rosh 54.
- Sefer Hamiddot, s.v. “Re’iya.”