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Thank G‑d for the Moon!

Thank G‑d for the Moon!

The monthly sanctification of the moon

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To bless the new moon at the proper time is like greeting the Divine Presence.Talmud

Once a month, as the soft, mellow light of the moon waxes in the sky, we recite a special blessing called Kiddush Levanah.

Kiddush Levanah can be recited three days after the moon’s rebirth—known as the molad. Kabbalah tells us it is best to wait a full week. Once fifteen days have passed, the moon begins to wane once more, and the season for saying the blessing has passed. The very best time for this blessing is immediately after Shabbat, as we leave the synagogue together dressed in our Shabbat clothes.

We’re not praising the moon, but its Creator—for His wondrous work we call astronomyHere’s the formula: After nightfall, when the moon is fully visible and unobstructed by cloud cover, stand under the open sky and look once at the moon. Then face east and recite the blessing, along with a few accompanying prayers. The more people you get to participate, the better—you are, after all, greeting the divine presence. If you have a quorum of ten men, kaddish is recited.

Of course, we’re not praising the moon, but its Creator—for His wondrous work we call astronomy. The moon has the most obvious monthly cycle of all the stars and planets, so we take the occasion of its renewal to make a blessing for the entire masterpiece.

Besides, our nation is likened to the moon—as it waxes and wanes, so have we throughout history. So, too, has the divine presence (the Shechinah)—which explains why the moon represents that, as well. So blessing the moon on its reappearance is a way of renewing our trust that the light of G‑d’s presence will soon fill all the earth, and our people will be redeemed from exile, very soon in our time. Which is why the blessing is concluded with songs and dancing in celebration and joy.

Illustrations by Yehuda Lang. To view more artwork by this artist, click here.
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Ariel (Lionel) Moss of Oxford, UK Oxford, UK December 9, 2016

My 1st pedantic comment - re Chabad.org's below June 11 2013 response to Barbara's comment of the same day: Chabad.org wrote "To Barbara - The blessing described here is the blessing for the moon which is said when the moon is still visible. It is not the blessing for the 'new' moon."
This response should have omitted the word 'still' if it relates to successive days, as with the passing of each night following 'Molad' the crescent moon becomes progressively thicker (ie less thin) and thus the use of 'still' seems inappropriate. Reply

JoDee Davis Baltimore, MD November 21, 2014

Helpful This was wonderful and explaining that it is not a prayer to the moon, but the creator has really helped my understanding. There were many things never explained to me growing up and now I am relearning or learning. As a Jew I wasn't always told the why. I started studying Pagan religions but I am so grateful for my creator to direct me to your site. Thank you. Reply

Anonymous Toronto September 13, 2013

Thank you for all the explanations as to what we do , and why. Not only is this helping me understand other people' s behavior , it helping me understand my own behavior , as well. It is truly amazing how our childhood upbringing remains with us . I do so many of these rituals without even thinking , or knowing why ! Shana Tova, and a easy fast to everyone. Reply

Stan Montreal July 16, 2013

Thank you Most interesting...thank you so much Reply

Chabad.org staff June 11, 2013

To Barbara The blessing described here is the blessing for the moon which is said when the moon is already visible. It is not the blessing for the 'new' moon. Reply

Barbara Manchester, NJ June 11, 2013

Rosh Chodesh At the new moon, rosh Chodesh, the moon is INVISIBLE! There is no light coming from it; the moon has waned completely. so to tell people to 'stand outside in the light of the moon" is impossible and ridiculous. One can only imagine its presence in the sky. Reply

Irene Alhanati Cardillo Rio de Janeiro, Brazil August 28, 2012

Thanking G-D for the moon. Thank you for posting this beautiful text. Now I understand the reason for the blessings. Reply

Isaac Imo, Nigeria July 16, 2011

i want the right direction i want to know exactly how to pray through the moon Reply

Anonymous bremerton, wa January 2, 2011

t's not academics that does it, but connecting/being connected to the divine. Reply

Anonymous Manhattan, NY September 21, 2010

Kiddush Levana 1) We are not thanking the moon. We are thanking G-d for the moon. Notice: we first look at the moon, then, we face East to say the prayer. That might even mean turning our backs on the moon! No paganism here.
2) We say the prayer while the moonlight is right there shining down on us. Analogy: we say hamotzi, then eat bread right away. We don't say hamotzi in the abstract and eat bread hours later or tomorrow. We are here to bring the holy into our actual , immediate experience.
3) It is the celebration of Rosh Chodesh that is firmly associated with women. Not Kiddush Levana. At Kiddush Levana the men finally get their turn with the moon, but the women got theirs right before the start of the month. And, Rosh Chodesh has more historical importance than Kiddush Levana. It once anchored the Jewish calendar and all Jewish life. Reply

John denver, CO September 8, 2010

Thanks The moon controls the tides and weather without it the world would be a less hospitable place. Thank him in his infinite wisdom that he gave it to us. Reply

Greg Chiasson Scituate, MA July 19, 2010

Goethe's "Guter Mond, du gehst so stille..." We must take a new and serious look at Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and why, as an 11 year-old, he demanded of his father that he be given lessons in Hebrew. Not a believer, at least in his conscious mind, he developed an expertise in Hebrew, in the Books of Moses, the Psalms and the Prophets. His Faust Drama is replete with Hebrew and Christian thematic, and with genuine reverence for both, without submitting his inner self to either. Reply

julietta wilder bronxville, ny June 27, 2010

gratiitude for the balance of nature Sholom David -not sure I understand the "allow its reflected light" part of your Q. Those who want to thank God for the new moon enjoy the ritual, while others meditate any time in gratitude for anything and everything in the balance of nature. To me, the true way to give thanks is not to say some ancient prayers only when a physical phenomenon in nature occurs, but everyday to appreciate & treasure all that we've been given. When there's a blizzard during a new moon, people can't see it, so that's how the riitual prayers began. Maybe to focus on the gift of the cyclical balance which "allows" us to live on this planet. The new moon is easy and regular, so Jews follow the ancient rituals & give thanks for it. Ancient people had ways to measure the solstices and some still celebrate or worship together on those days.You know the moon is always there, day & night, and it waxes and wanes in our sight only due to the position of the Earth & sun --how it all works together is so amazing! Reply

David Chester Petach Tikva, Israel June 27, 2010

Without Seing the Moon, Julietta,
We still know that it is there and that it has and does fullfill a useful purpose. So why can't we thank G-d for its presence without having to allow its reflected light to shine down on us? Reply

julietta Wilder bRONXVILLE, ny June 24, 2010

how serious is it. . . It's fine -- just be thankful for everything in nature. The moon was important to people back in the days before they had calendars. The moon is part of the greater natural balance, causing tidal shifts, etc. So, next time you're outside, just say a silent prayer in thanks for all the perfection of nature. Maybe a good thing for all of us, while we pray and whenever we are able, to help save the earth for the next generation -- recycling, conserving water, carpooling when we can, etc. and teaching our children to do the same. I think that is the true lesson of giving thanks to the new moon -- what do you think? Reply

David Chester Petach Tikva, Israel June 24, 2010

Praise for the Moon When I see the congregation gather outdoors after the service to pray for the moon it is very difficult not to think that they may be praying TO the moon. This problem is so serious in my mind that I would rather not join in. How serious is it to not thank G-d for this most necessary sub-planet? Reply

Randy Farb Flint, MI June 23, 2010

Thank G-d for the moon I was introduced to this ritual in 1978, and have sporadically performed it since. Levanah is my favorite service. Thanks for posting this article. Reply

Julietta Wilder BRONXVILLE, NY June 22, 2010

Praising femininity in conjunction w/the new moon Since the moon is traditionally associated with women and feminism, and cycles of the moon are sometimes associated with women's cycles, praise for the Creator can be expressed by a "minyan" of 10 of more women
singing psalms of joy (and also to express being grateful to have been given the blessing of being born a woman). Reply

Anonymous Bham, AL June 22, 2010

Thank G-d for the Moon Thank you so much for sending this e-mail. I absolutely love this article.
I have been doing something similar for years--going out at night to look at the moon, to enjoy its beauty and that of the stars, praising G-d for their beauty and their presence--and sometimes I have wondered if I were doing something pagan, but deep down I knew I wasn't, I was praying our Creator. To know that this is a good Jewish thing to do is so reassuring and really makes me happy and renews my wanting to keep doing it! Thanks again. Reply

yitzchok ny, ny June 20, 2010

an online hebrew english siddur Here is a link to a Hebrew-English siddur with kiddush levana:
hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=16091&st=&pgnum=616 Reply

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