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Halachos for Wednesday, June 20 2012

1) Upon seeing the "new moon" each month, the Bracha of "Baruch Ata Hashem...Asher B'Ma'amaro Bara Shechakim U'Beruach Piv Kol Tzeva'am, Blessed are You Hashem...Who with His utterance created the heavens and with the breath of His mouth all their [heavenly] legions..." (Shulchan Aruch Siman 426:1)


This ritual is referred to as "Birchas Halevana" or alternatively, and more commonly, as "Kiddush Levana" . The Talmud (Sanhedrin 42a) teaches us that all who "bless" the new moon are akin to having greted the Shechinah, the divine presence.


Women are exempt from this Mitzvah, and should indeed not do it. (See Mogen Avraham Siman 426:1, Mishna Berura Siman 426 S"K 1,Chochmas Shlomo 426:1. See also MaHarsha in Chidushei Agados to Sanhedrin 42a. There are also many mystical reasons given why women may not recite Kidush Levana. When Mashiach comes, women will once again say Kiddush Levana)


2) Kiddush Levana is only recited at night, while the moon is illuminated and its light can be utilized. (Rama Siman 426:1)


Halachos for Thursday, June 21 2012

1) It is proper to quickly gaze at the moon before beginning to recite Kiddush Levana. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 426:2)


However, as long as the moon was visible and illuminating the night sky, even if the person reciting the Bracha did not actually see it, rather he just followed the lead of the other people in the congregation who were reciting Kiddush Levana, he has satisfied his obligation. (See Shu"t Shevet Haleivi Yoreh Deah Vol. 5 Siman 125:4)


However, if he remembers in the midst of the Bracha that he did not glance at the moon before starting, he should take a quick look at it right when he remembers. (See Mishna Berura Siman 426 S"K 13)


2) Before gazing at the moon during Kiddush Levana (or any time for that matter) it is worthwhile to keep the following in mind:


The Ba'al HaChareidim, one of the holy Mekubalim in the times of the Bais Yosef and the Arizal, writes (Perek 45:5), "It is prohibited to gaze at a rainbow...It is likewise prohibited to gaze at the moon. Rabbeinu Meir used to be extremely stringent with it is quoted in Sefer Shoshan sodos"


In the Sefer Taamei HaMinhagim (Kuntres Achron to Siman 464:22) he quotes the Sefer Shevet HaMussar that Al Pi Kabalah it is just as bad to gaze at the moon as it is to gaze at a rainbow.


In the long Nusach, text, of Vidui from Rabbeinu Avraham, father of the Shla HaKadosh, where he enumerates hundreds of possible sins that a person needs to do Teshuva for, he lists as one of the sins: "Gazing at the [new] moon"


The Mishna Berura (ibid.) writes that by Kiddush Levana when we must look at the moon before commencing the Bracha, according to some opinions the moon should be glanced at for a moment and that's all, and according to others it can be looked at for the duration of the Bracha, but it seems clear that any extra gazing at the moon is indeed something that should be avoided at best and may even be considered a sin!


Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh, June 22 2012

(Double Portion L'Kavod Shabbos Kodesh)


Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh


1) If one is situated outdoors in a place where he can only see the moon via a small window or other opening, but the moon's rays do not directly reach where he is standing, he can still recite the Kiddush Levana. (See Birchei Yosef Siman 426:4)


2)If one is unable to leave the house for medical or other valid reasons, he may recite Kiddush Levana upon seeing the moon from inside, through a window pane. (See Mishna Berura Siman 426 S"K 21)


However, L'chatchilah, it is best for the window to be opened so that the moon is seen directly, not via the pane of glass. (Sha'ar HaTziyun Siman 426 Os 25)

Halachos for Shabbos Kodesh


1) Ideally, Kiddush Levana should be recited on Motzaei Shabbos [or Motzaei Yom Tov] when still adorned with Shabbos clothing (Shulchan Aruch Siman 426:2 and Mishna Berura S"K 5)


However, if the first possible Motzaei Shabbos to recite Kiddush Levana is after the 10th day of the month we do not push it off until then, rather it is recited at the earliest possible night, lest the next few nights be cloudy and the deadline for reciting Kiddush Levana will be missed. (Rama Siman 426:2)


2) When reciting Kiddush Levana on a week night, it is proper to be wearing nice clothing. (Rama ibid. The Mishna Berura S"K 7 writes that nowadays we aren't concerned with this. However, it is still proper to not to be wearing unclean or unrespectable clothing.)



Halachos for Sunday, June 24 2012

1)Ideally, it is best to recite Kiddush Levana together with a group, and not say it alone, as "B'rov Am Hadras Melech", it is more respectful to the King, Hashem, when done with a Tzibbur.


However, this does not require a minyan of ten men, as even if said together in a group of three men, it suffices.


Some say that even saying it together with one other person is acceptable. (See Biur Halacha Siman 426:2 Dibur Hamaschil Elah and Siman 167:11 Dibur Hamaschil Echad)


2) If one sees the moon on Motzaei Shabbos when he is alone he should recite the Kiddush Levana then rather than wait to say it together with another person on a week night, as it is best not to push off this Mitzvah. (See Mishna Berura Siman 426 S"K 20)


If one has the opportunity to recite Kiddush Levana on a week night together with others and he knows that if he waits until Motzaei Shabos most likely he will not have anyone else to recite it with, he should say it with them rather than with until Motzai Shabbos. (See Sha'ar HaTziyun Siman 426 Os 20. )


Halachos for Monday, June 25 2012

1) In the month of Av, Kiddush Levana is not recited before Tisha B'Av. (Rama Siman 426:2)


Although the Rama (ibid.) also writes not to recite in on Motzaei Tisha B'av, the prevalent custom is to indeed recite it on Motzaei Tisha B'Av after the fast is broken. (See Mishna Berura Siman 426:11. In the event that Tisha B'Av falls out on Thursday, it is best to wait until Motzaei Shabbos. See Mishna Berura Siman 426 S"K 10)


The main reason for this is that Kiddush Levana needs to be recited with Simcha. Thus when still on an empty stomach for 24+ hours and still in the Tisha B'Av mode one cannot be doing it with Simcha; after he has eaten and he is in the post Tisha B'Av mode of Geulah, he is considered B'Simcha. (It is possible that even the Rama was referring to reciting it while still fasting, and would agree to recite it after eating.)


Additionally, being that Mashiach was born on Motzaei Tisha B'Av it is proper to say Kiddush Levana at that time to symbolize the "rebirth" of the moon as well as the "rebirth" of [the glory of] Klal Yisroel. (See Be'er Heitev Siman 551:8 quoting the Arizal)


2) Kiddush Levana should not be recited without shoes on, and thus is best to change out of "Tisha B'Av shoes" before reciting. (See Mishna Berura Siman 426:11)


Halachos for Tuesday, June 26 2012

1) In the month of Tishrei, Kiddush Levana is not recited before Yom Kippur.(Rama Siman 426:2)


Here too, the reason is that in the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur we are in a state of trembling due to our annual heavenly judgment and thus are lacking in Simcha. (See Mishna Berura Siman 426 S"K 9)


Some Poskim, however, maintain that during this period, when every extra Mitzvah performed can help tip the scales in our favor, it is indeed best to perform the Mitzvah of Kiddush Levana even before Yom Kippur. (See Biur Halacha Siman 426 Dibur Hamaschil V'Lo Kodem Yom Kippur)


The prevalent custom is to indeed wait until Motzaei Yom Kippur to recite Kiddush Levana.


2) Unlike on Motzaei Tisha B'Av when we wait until the fast is broken and the Tisha B'Av shoes are removed, on Motzaei Yom Kippur the custom is to recite Kiddush Levana right after Ma'ariv, before eating and before changing shoes, as here we are B'Simcha with the confidence that we have made it through our judgment with a positive outcome. (See Mishna Berura Siman 426:11. See also Sdei Chemed; Yom Hakipurim Siman 1:1)


Halachos for Wednesday, June 27 2012

1) Kiddush Levana is not recited on a Motzaei Shabbos that falls out on a Yom Tov. (Rama Siman 426:2 quoting the MaHaril)


A resident of Chutz L'Aretz that is in Eretz Yisroel on Motzaei [the first day of] Shavuos and davens Ma'ariv (of Yom Tov) with a minyan of Bnei Eretz Yisroel who proceed to recite Kiddush Levana after their Ma'ariv (of weekday), should not recite Kiddush Levana with them, but rather recite it the following night when it will be Motzaei Yom Tov for him.


This is the case even if this will cause him to have to recite it B'Yechidus, alone.

He should be as inconspicuous as possible and ensure that nobody realizes that he is not joining them for the recital; if this is impossible and everyone will know, many Poskim allow him to recite it with them even though it is Yom Tov for him.(See Shu"t B'Tzeil Hachachma Vol. 2 Siman 37 and Sefer Yom Tov Sheini K'Hilchaso Perek 11:5)


2) Although Kiddush Levana is generally not recited on Shabbos or Yom Tov (for various Kabalistic and Halachic reasons), if by not reciting it on Shabbos or Yom Tov it will result in missing the deadline for that month altogether, it may be recited even on Shabbos or Yom Tov. (See Mishna Berura Siman 426 S"K 12 and Sha'ar Hatziyun Os 12)


Halachos for Thursday, June 28 2012

1) When reciting Kiddush Levana it is proper to keep the feet together, the way we stand during Shemona Esrei. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 426:2. See also Yesod V'Shoresh H'Avodah Sha'ar 9 Perek 1 and Ben Ish Chai, Year 2, Parashas Vayikra Siman 23)


2) After the initial Bracha of "Baruch Ata Hashem...Asher B'Ma'amaro Bara Shechakim U'Beruach Piv Kol Tzeva'am...Baruch Ata Hashem Mechadesh Chadashim" is recited, various other verses are recited, three times each for emphasis. The first two are as follows:


a) "Baruch Yotzrech; Blessed is your molder, Baruch Osech; Blessed is your Maker, Baruch Konech; Blessed is your Owner, Baruch Bor'ech; Blessed is your Creator".


The first letters of each of these titles of Hashem spell the name of Yaakov [Avinu], whose likeness is etched into the Kisei Hakavod, an allusion to the fact that the entire universe was created for the sake of Yaakov and his children, i.e. the Jewish nation. (Based on Kaballistic writings. See Sha'arei Teshuva Siman 426 Dibur Hamaschil Baruch Yotzrech)


b) The heels should then be lifted, and standing on tiptoes, in a dancing motion and with Simcha, say, "K'sheim Sh'ani Roked K'Negdaich V'aini Yachol Lingoa Bach, Kach Lo Yuchlu Kol Oivai Lingoa Bi L'Ra, just as I dance toward you [the moon] but cannot touch you, so too may my enemies be unable to touch me for evil". (See Mishna Berura Siman 426 S"K 14 that care must be taken not to bow as we "dance" so that it should not seem like we are bowing to the moon. See Me'iri to Sanhedrin 42a that the "dancing" is a demonstration of our Simcha and our love for the Mitzvah. See also Yesod V'Shoresh H'Avodah Sha'ar 9 Perek 1 for a detailed discussion of the correlation between the physical moon on this world and the spiritual moon, the Shechina in the upper world. )


Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh, June 29 2012(Double Portion L'Kavod Shabbos Kodesh)


Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh


1) We will now continue detailing the verses that are recited as part of the Kiddush Levana order.


c) The following verse (from Shmos 15:16) is recited three times: "Tipol Aleihem Aimasa V'Fachad Bigdol Zeroacha Yidmu K'Even, Let there fall upon them [our enemies] terror and fear at the greatness of Your arm let them be still as a stone" (Rama Siman 4262)


d) The aforementioned verse is once again recited three times, but this time it is said in reverse order as follows: "K'Even Yidmu Zeroacha Bigdol V'Fachad Aimasa Aleihem Tipol". (ibid.)


One of the reasons given for saying this verse backwards is to allude to the fact that although Hashem generally runs the world with a natural order and protect us using "natural" means, sometimes he "reverses" nature, i.e. performs miracles, to protect us from the evil schemes of those who try to harm us. (Rabbi Elie Munk in "World of Prayer" Vol. 2 Page 99)


2) e) We then say, three times, "Dovid Melech Yisroel Chai V'Kayam, David, king of Israel lives and endures". The dynasty of the house of Dovid Hamelech is akin to the moon in that it too will have a rebirth, with the arrival of Mashiach Ben Dovid, may it be soon. (Rama ibid.)


As well, Knesses Yisroel, the Jewish nation likened to a bride, will once again have a rebirth and return and cling to her groom, Hashem, similar to the way the moon clings to the sun; therefore we are joyous and dance during Kiddush Levana, similar to a wedding. (Rama ibid. based in part on the words of Rabbeinu Bachya Parashas Vayeishev)


Halachos for Shabbos Kodesh

1) At this point in the order of Kiddush Levana, each person turns to someone standing near him and says:


f) "Shalom Aleichem, peace upon you!" to which the one that was greeted responds "Aleichem Shalom, Upon you peace".


This is repeated three times either to the same person (as it seems from the language of the Rama ibid.) or to three separate people, as is the prevalent Minhag [if there is more than one person there to say it to.] (See Mateh Moshe Siman 540 )


2) Various reasons are given for this "greeting process" being inserted into the text of Kiddush Levana; we will give two of them.


The Mogen Avrohom (Siman 426:11) writes that since we just cursed our enemies, we immediately turn and greet those around us as an indication that they are our friends.


Another reason given is that being that we just greeted the Shechinah, we extend that joy and blessings to our fellow man. (MaHaril, quoted in Mateh Moshe ibid. See Bnei Yissoscher Ma'amar 4 Rosh Chodesh for additional reasoning)


The final verse that is recited, and repeated three times, is:


g) "Siman Tov U'Mazel Tov Yehei Lanu U'Lchal Yisroel Amen, A good sign and a good fortune may there be for us and for all of Klal Yisroel, Amen". Seemingly, the reason for this verse being recited is also to extend our joyous "greeting" and blessing to all of Israel, beyond just the people that are around us at the moment.


Halachos for Sunday, July 1 2012

1) After the set of verses which are repeated three times are concluded, various other Pesukim are recited: Kol Dodi Hinei Zeh Ba...(Shir Hashirim 2:8 and 9), Shir LaMa'alos Esa Einai El HeHarim...(Tehilim 121), Helelukah Halelu Kel B'Kadsho...(Tehilim 150) (Mogen Avrohom Siman 426:10. See Siddur for entire text)


The reason for the aforementioned Pesukim being added to the text of Kiddush Levana is either that they mention the moon and other celestial bodies, which are a testament to the strength of Hashem, or they directly make mention of the strength of Hashem.(See Biur Halacha Siman 426:2 Dibur Hamaschil U'Mevarech M'Umad)


2) Upon completing Kiddush Levana, it is the prevalent custom to recite the Tefilah of "Aleinu L'Shabeach L'Adon Hakol..." is recited.


One reason given for this is that this Tefilah was composed by Yehoshua Bin Nun upon conquering Yericho, and the Talmud (Bava Basra 75a) teaches us that [Moshe's face was akin to the sun and] Yehoshua's face was akin to the moon, thus we honor our great master Yehoshua by reciting his prayer in conjunction with the blessing of the moon. (See Elya Rabbah Siman 132:3)


Another reason cited for reciting "Aleinu", which ends with the words 'Ki Hashem Hu HaElokim...Ain Od, for Hashem He is G-d...there is none other', is to demonstrate that our praying and dancing during Kiddush Levana was not "to" the moon, Chas V'Shalom, rather it was a demonstration of our recognizing the strength of Hashem who created the moon and lights up the world according to His will. (See Biur Halacha ibid. According to this reason it would seem that the second paragraph of "V'Al Kein Nekaveh..." need not be said.)


Some people (including many Sephardim) do not have this custom and refrain from saying "Aleinu"; every individual should follow the custom of their family and/or congregation. (See Chida in Moreh Etzba Siman 190 and Kaf HaChaim Siman 426:47)

Halachos for Monday, July 2 2012

1) The Shulchan Aruch (Siman 426:4) rules that Kiddush Levana should not be recited until seven days have passed from the Molad (the rebirth of the new moon, in Yerushalayim) (This ruling is based on deep Kabbalistic writings, and those who follow Kabbalistic rulings are indeed careful to wait the complete seven days. See Yesod V'Shoresh H'Avoda Sha'ar 9, Perek 1, Aruch HaShulchan Siman 426:13 in the brackets, Kaf HaChaim Siman 426:61 and Shu"t Chasam Sofer Orach Chaim Siman 102)


2) However, most Poskim (including the Bach, Mogen Avrohom, Taz, Pri Chadash and others) maintain that once three full days have passed from the Molad, Kiddush Levana may be recited, and the Mitzvah should not be pushed off until after seven days. (See Mishna Berura Siman 426:20 and Sha'ar HaTziyun Os 18)


However, if the third day falls out during the week, many Poskim rule that it is proper to wait until Motzaei Shabbos. (Mishna Berura ibid.)


Other Poskim, including the Gaon of Vilna, maintain that once three days have passed it should be said at the earliest possible opportunity and not even be pushed off until Motzaei Shabbos.(ibid. See also Halichos Shlomo; Rosh Chodesh: Perek 1:27 that even one who usually waits seven days, may recite it L'Chatchila after three days in the event that he has a valid concern that he will be unable to do it later.)


In the winter months and in the rainy seasons it is definitely praiseworthy to try and recite Kiddush Levana at the earliest possible time. (Mishna Berura ibid.)

Halachos for Tuesday, July 3 2012

1) Kiddush Levana may be recited until, but not including, the sixteenth day from the Molad [in Yerushalayim], as at that point the moon is no longer "new"; rather it then begins to diminish again. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 426:3 and Mishna Berura S"K 18. The Rama gives a slightly shorter time, which would shave a few hours off of the end time, so it's best to not push off saying it until the absolute latest time. See Mishna Berura S"K 19 for the calculation of the Rama)


For example, if the Molad is on Sunday, January 1 at 6:55 am [in Yerushalayim], Kiddush Levana may be recited until the second Monday afterward, January 16 at 6:55 am [in Yerushalayim], thus in actuality the final time for Kiddush Levana would be the entire Sunday night, January 15 [in Yerushalayim] and until 11:55 pm on Sunday night in New York. (Or a few hours earlier, according to the Rama. Every city should calculate its own time, based on the corresponding time of the Molad in Yerushalyim. See Mishna Berura Siman 426 S"K 17)


2) Kiddush Levana should L'Chatchila not be recited while standing under a roof or awning, rather it should be recited standing directly under the sky. The reason for this is that Kiddush Levana is akin to "greeting" the Shechinah, and it isn't respectful to "greet the King" under a roof, as the usual way to greet kings was by "going out into the street" to greet them. (Mishna Berura Siman 426 S"K 21)


Of course, if it was recited under a roof the obligation has been satisfied, and one who has a legitimate reason to be unable to go out under the sky, may recite it from indoors, after seeing the moon through a window. (ibid.)


When reciting Kiddush Levana it is proper to be facing Mizrach. ( i.e. the direction faced during Tefilah, toward Yerushalayim, which isn't necesarily always East.) Ruling of Rav Moshe Feinstein Zatzal, as heard from one of his students.  This is also how the  Yesod V'Shoresh H'Avoda, Sha'ar 9 Perek 1 says to do it. See also Shu"t B'Tzeil hachachma Vol. 3 Siman 64)


Halachos for Wednesday, July 4 2012

1) Kiddush Levana, as we have learned, is an extremely important Mitzvah, as it is akin to greeting the Shechinah, and if this Mitzvah would have been the only Mitzvah we merited receiving from Hashem it would have been sufficient [to sustain us the chosen nation]. (See Talmud Sanhedrin 42a and Rashi Dibur Hamaschil Dayan)


It is due to the high esteem of this Mitzvah that we perform it while standing. (Talmud ibid.)


2) Being that this Mitzvah alone would have sustained us, performing it is considered like performing all the Mitzvos of the Torah!


Therefore it is incumbent on every Jew to ensure that he performs this Mitzvah each month and doesn't miss it due to inclement weather or other reasons; one should even wake up in the middle of the night in order to perform this Mitzvah (i.e. if it is the last night, and he will otherwise miss it) (See Yosef Ometz Siman 467)

When reciting Kiddush Levana, each word should be enunciated slowly and clearly as is respectful when greeting the King, Hashem.(See Kaf HaChaim Siman 426:9)



תם ונשלם

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