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Reciting Birkat Ha'levana Before Seven Complete Days Have Passed Since the Molad; Reciting Birkat Ha'levana Indoors



Rabbi Eli Mansour shall be starting a new learning program for men.  This BUSINESSMEN STUDY GROUP will learn in depth from Yore Deah, siman 87 and onward- The Laws of Milk & Meat.  This new program will be held every Sunday morning at 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM (following the Daf Yomi class), in the 2nd floor Midrash of Har HaLebanon.  Rabbi Mansour shall pair up individuals into Chevrutot (study partners).  Studying will be in pairs for the first hour, and the Rabbi shall review with everyone in the 2nd hour.  Refreshments will be served.  We ask that each person interested in this program RSVP by replying to this email, so that we can be able to purchase and supply the appropriate quantity of study materials, and so that the Rabbi can properly match up Chevrutot.  For more information, please see the Rabbi, email back, or see Benny Cohen.



Today’s Halacha….


The widespread practice is to recite birkat Ha'levana (the blessing over the new moon) specifically on Motza'ei Shabbat.  The Sages speak of birkat Ha'levana as a way of greeting the Shechina (Divine Presence), and it is therefore appropriate to recite this Beracha on Motza'ei Shabbat, when we wear fine clothes and carry fragrant Besamim (spices).


Our custom follows the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch requiring that one recite birkat Ha'levana no earlier than seven days after the Molad, the first appearance of the new moon.  It occasionally happens that the congregation assembles for birkat Ha'levana after services on Motza'ei Shabbat, but several hours remain until the passage of seven complete days since the Molad.  May the congregation recite birkat Ha'levana at that point, or must they wait until seven complete days have passed since that month's Molad?


Chacham Ovadia Yosef, in his work Chazon Ovadia (Laws of Chanukah, p. 362), notes the common practice to be lenient in such a case, and to allow reciting birkat Ha'levana a few hours before seven complete days have passed since the Molad.  He writes that there is sufficient basis in Halacha to support this custom, as Rabbi Menachem Azarya of Pano, a prominent Kabbalist, held this view.


Optimally, one should recite birkat Ha'levana outdoors, rather than while looking at the moon through a window indoors.  This Halacha, too, stems from the notion that one greets the Shechina when reciting this Beracha, thus requiring that one leave his building to go greet the Almighty.  Nevertheless, Chacham Ovadia Yosef rules (ibid. p. 363) that if a person traveling by plane had not recited birkat Ha'levana and will not have the opportunity to do so after arriving in his destination, he may recite the Beracha upon seeing the moon from inside the plane.  If possible, he should stand while reciting this Beracha; if standing is not feasible, he may recite the Beracha while sitting.  Similarly, a person who cannot leave his home due to illness, Heaven forbid, may recite birkat Ha'levana upon seeing the new moon through a window.  He should preferably open the window before reciting this Beracha, but if he cannot open a window due to the cold, he may look at the moon through the closed window and recite the Beracha.


Summary: birkat Ha'levana should be recited on Motza'ei Shabbat no earlier than seven days after the Molad.  If the congregation finishes services on Motza'ei Shabbat several hours before seven complete days have passed since the Molad, they may nevertheless recite the Beracha at that point.  Although birkat Ha'levana should optimally be recited outdoors, where this is not possible, such as if a person travels by plane or is homebound due to illness, he may recite the Beracha upon seeing the new moon through a window.