Publisher’s Foreword

On Shabbos Parshas Noach, the Rebbe Shlita emphasized the importance of spreading the observance of the monthly practice of Kiddush HaLevanah, the Sanctification of the Moon. What we are hereby publishing with this intent, is not so much a restatement of the Rebbe’s words on that occasion, but an original essay which draws heavily on those words, as well as on a number of other Torah sources.

7 MarCheshvan, 5752 [October 15, 1991]

Do You Appreciate Something That You Haven’t Worked For?

There isn’t a single one of us who isn’t happy to receive a present. Nevertheless, it is human nature for a person not to derive true satisfaction from anything he is given unless he has labored for it and earned it.

The same concept applies in our relationship with G‑d. G‑d has promised man blessings of ultimate good and this promise will be realized in the Era of the Redemption. For the good of this era to be appreciated in the fullest sense, however, G‑d ordained that its advent would be dependent on man’s conduct. It is our efforts to refine the world and reveal the spiritual potential invested in it which prepares for the ultimate manifestation of that potential in the Era of the Redemption.1 When we carry out this service, the Redemption becomes a product of our own efforts and will thus be appreciated more deeply.

In Touch with the Times

In a general sense, the totality of our observance of the Torah and its mitzvos is dedicated to this objective. In particular, however, each era has its distinctive spiritual task, one which has a particular potential to hasten the coming of the Redemption. At times, even individual practices and customs are granted paramount importance and their observance is particularly significant, for they are intrinsically related to the advent of Mashiach.

In this vein, on Shabbos Parshas Noach, the Rebbe Shlita spoke of the importance of the practice of Kiddush HaLevanah, “the Sanctification of the Moon.”2 Indeed, the Rebbe stated that the careful observance of this precept will hasten the coming of the Redemption.

Becoming Conscious of G‑d’s Presence

Our Sages3 equate the Sanctification of the Moon with welcoming G‑d’s Presence, for the pattern by which the moon constantly renews itself enables man to appreciate the G‑dliness manifest within the natural order.. Rabbeinu Yonah, gloss to the Halachos of Rabbeinu Yitzchak Alfasi, Berachos 21a. When one considers the unfailing pattern in which the universe continues, one becomes conscious of an infinite power that surpasses our human conception. Although this concept can be perceived from all elements of our worldly environment, our Sages associated this idea with the moon, for the regular monthly pattern in which it waxes and wanes is clearly observable.4

Significantly, however, the Rabbis relate this manifestation of G‑dliness within nature to the manifestation of His might and wonders in His relationship with the Jewish people. Thus, in his explanation of the Sanctification of the Moon, Rabbeinu Yonah4 focuses on the verse,5 “Truly, You are a G‑d who hides Himself, O G‑d of Israel and Savior,” and declares:

Although You are “a G‑d who hides Yourself,” You are “the G‑d of Israel,” for You have wrought numerous wonders on their behalf and You deliver them at every time and juncture. Thus, You have revealed Yourself to them, and they are conscious of Your Presence.

A Promise of Redemption

Similarly, our Sages6 associate the moon’s periodic rebirth with the ultimate renewal the Jewish people will experience in the Era of the Redemption, for the Jews “calculate their calendar according to the moon and resemble the moon.”7 Just as the moon wanes and becomes concealed, for a certain time the Jewish people must endure the darkness of exile. The shining of the moon anew each month, however, reassures us of the coming of the ultimate rebirth — the Redemption.

More particularly, the Sages8 associate the moon with the Davidic dynasty. This is borne out by the recitation of the phrase, “David, King of Israel, is living and enduring,” in the ceremony of the Sanctification of the Moon. Thus the rebirth of the moon also reflects a promise of renewal for that dynasty, the shining forth of the light of Mashiach, who will be a descendant of King David.9

“The Guardian of Israel Neither Slumbers nor Sleeps”10

The Sanctification of the Moon also carries with it assurances of security and protection for every individual, as borne out by our prayer in the sanctification ceremony: “Just as I leap toward you and cannot touch you, so too, may all my enemies be unable to touch me harmfully.”11 Even in the night of exile, when the Divine Presence is not openly revealed, G‑d is constantly watching over us and protecting us.

Renewing the Marriage Contract

Our Sages12 explain that the Sanctification of the Moon should be recited with joy and celebration parallel to that of a wedding. For the redemption of the Jewish people to which it alludes is described by analogy, as the renewal of their marriage bond with G‑d.13

And this is all the more relevant at the present time, for the Redemption is imminent. As the Rebbe Shlita has told us on countless occasions, we are “on the threshold of the redemption,” and indeed, we are in the process of crossing that threshold.14

The ceremony of the Sanctification of the Moon includes the following verse:15 “The voice of my beloved! Here he comes, leaping over the mountains, skipping over the hills.” On this verse, the Yalkut Shimoni comments: “ ’The voice of my beloved’ — This refers to the Mashiach. He comes and tells Israel, ‘You will be redeemed this month.’ ”

May Mashiach leap over any and all obstacles that hold back the Redemption and allow this promise to be realized in this present month.

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Basic Guidelines on the Sanctification of the Moon

1. In most prayer books, the prayers for the Sanctification of the Moon are found after the evening service or after the Havdalah service of Saturday night.

2. The blessing may be recited only until the conclusion of the fifteenth day after the rebirth of the moon. According to the Kabbalah, the blessing should not be recited before the seventh day after the rebirth of the moon.

3. The blessing should be recited under the open skies, but may not be recited when the moon is covered with clouds.

4. Preferably, the blessing should be recited on Saturday night. There are, however, certain exceptions to this rule.

An Essay Occasioned by an Address of the Lubavitcher Rebbe שליט"א
on Shabbos Parshas Noach, 5752