Three Types of Moon

We find in Pirkei Avot and in the Gemarra Megila (15a) a very powerful statement. If you would like to bring the redemption- Geulah, it can be done in a very simple way. Rav Eliezer says in the name of Rav Chanina, “Whoever says a statement in the name of the original speaker, will bring Geulah to the world.” What is so special and unique? In order to understand this we need to travel from the foundations of creation till the Megilah.

When Hashem created the world, there was inherently a dichotomy. On the one hand the world is meant to be a place of testing – of Nisayon; will we see Hashem’s hand in the world or not? Therefore the world needs to be disconnected from Hashem, so as to hide His guidance and involvement[i]. On the other hand, Hashem created the world and guides people and specifically the Jewish people as to his will. The means that Hashem chose to find this balance was to create a world of balance between revelation and disguise[ii].

One of the ways that this is described is through the process of Mashpia and Mekabel- benefactor and beneficiary. In the world as we see it, any act of transfer, be it energy or knowledge, includes within itself a diminution of the message. Therefore when Hashem created a world, there was an attenuation of his presence.  This is inherent in the words in Lashon HaKodesh used in the Torah to describe creation. The word for creation is ‘Bara’, which also implies separation. When Hashem created the world, he separated from it, to allow Nisayon and Bechirah. Therefore, the basic concept of creation purposely does not reflect its creator. The word for sin in Lashon HaKodesh is ’Chet’. In other places this word means: lack or deficiency[iii]. This is a result of the act of ‘Bara’, which allowed existence seemingly outside the realm of Hashem. The opposite word ‘Mitzvah’, in addition to meaning commandment also means to join together[iv]. This implies that the original act of creation was inherently a ‘Chet’, a deficiency, and the Mitzvoth are meant to rejoin them. Hashem is the ultimate Mashpia, and the entire world is meant to be Mekabel. The goal is to do Mitzvoth which reconnect the act of ‘Bara’ to its Creator.

This idea is also found in the study of the Torah. The Torah comes in two flavors- Torah SheBichtav and Torah SheBea’l Peh- the Written Torah and the Oral Torah. A fascinating observation in the Talmud is the plethora of names. The Talmud will go to great lengths to correctly ascertain the provenance of a particular statement of the sages. This is not just to ascribe authorship, but it is an act of proper transmission- not only is the context correct, but also the content. The ultimate act of transmission is therefore an attempt to say the statement in the name of the original speaker, which will bring Geulah to the world. This is only a function of Torah SheBea’l Peh and not Torah SheBichtav.

This was actually the sin of Adam and Chava. When Adam and Chava sin, they rend asunder the tenuous connection that still existed between Hashem and His world. If we examine the sin more clearly we see that the beginning of the sin was when Chava touched the Eitz HaDaat and nothing happened. She thought that Adam had told her that touching the tree would cause death. In actuality the original commandment was only not to eat from the tree. The prohibition against touching was added as a Gezeirah by Adam. That is a correct addition; however the transmission of this idea was flawed. Chava thought it was part of the original ban by Hashem, and when the expected consequence did not take place, she and Adam sinned. In actuality, this is the first Rabbinic prohibition- a Gezeirah- but since it as not transmitted and received accurately, the consequences were dire. However, every trait of man has its source in the creation itself. Where in the creations of the six days, is this idea of disconnect found?

One of the more well known parts of the Six Days of Creation is the debate between Hashem and the moon. As the Pasuk says, “And Elokim created the two great luminaries, the large luminaries to illuminate the day, and the smaller luminaries to illuminate the night, and the stars.” The Gemarra in Chulin 60b, and brought in Rashi on the spot, tells that the moon came to Hashem with a claim. There cannot be two kings reigning under one crown, therefore how can there be two large luminaries? Hashem responded, “Diminish yourself!” Later Hashem says that in the sacrifices of Rosh Chodesh, “Bring a Chatos- a sin offering-for me since I diminished the moon.” There are many aspects to discuss in this Gemarra. One of the longest Gur Aryehs is needed to explain this Gemarra. I would like to focus on one aspect of it.

In order to explain this further we need to access the idea of the Maharal in explaining this Gemarra. The entire creation was an exercise on the part of Hashem to create a space that seemingly is removed from Him, and therefore allows people free will and choice. In the actual creation, the beings that express that most clearly are the sun and the moon. They are among the only creations which were originally created as Mashpia and Mekabel. Therefore the dialog between the moon and Hashem are a representation of the dialog between man and Hashem. The separation of the moon is the act of creating the possibility of ‘Chet’, of separation from Hashem. This is where all evil enters the world. How does the diminution of the moon take effect in the world? I have found three levels of explanation.

The easiest is that the light of the moon is less than the light of the sun. It seems, and the Shem Mishmuel confirms[v], that from the beginning of creation the relationship between the moon and the sun was one of Mashpia and Mekabel- benefactor and beneficiary. However, before the diminution of the moon, the Mekabel was able to receive the full transmission of the Mashpia, and then continue to transmit that on. Thus, the light of the moon even though it was a reflection of the sun, was 100% of the light of the sun. Once, the moon complained, the result was that the reflection could not reach the complete power of the Mashpia. Therefore, the moon was diminished.

The second level of explanation is another basic difference between the sun and the moon. The moon waxes and wanes. Depending on the phase of the moon, there is more or less of the moon showing. We go from the Molad of Rosh Chodesh through the crescent, quarter, and full moon, till at the end of the month, there is no moon left at all. The sun on the other hand is constant. Therefore, the moon was diminished in relation to the sun[vi].

The third aspect is the lack of correlation between a lunar and solar year. The lunar year is approximately eleven days less than a solar year. This requires a Shnas HaIbur, a leap year, seven out of every nineteen years.  In these three ways we find a diminution of the moon, compared to the sun[vii].

The Shem Mishmuel links all of these ideas together. Obviously, the sun and the moon also represent a spiritual force in the world. When they are both great luminaries, they revolved in orbit equally. Therefore, the reflection of the moon was complete; the earth did not intercede between the sun and the moon, creating the phenomenon of waxing and waning; and the solar and lunar years were equal since they were equidistant from the earth. (I cannot figure out the orbital mechanics of this, but that is only from a lack of trying.)

During the first half of each month a special Tefillah is said- Kidush Levana. Among the parts of this Tefilah is a request, based on a Pasuk in Isaiah (30,26): May the light of the moon be as great as the light of the sun. This request implies that when the Moshiach comes, the diminution of the moon will be reversed. Based on the three aspects discussed earlier, this will be a major change in the world.

The Zohar HaKodesh refers to Shlomo as the moon in its completion. The Midrash Rabbah (Shemot 15,26) describes how Shlomo was the 15th generation from Avrohom, and in each generation the illumination of the Jewish people increased till the construction of the Bais HaMikdash in the time of Shlomo. It seems that the choice of metaphor- the moon in its completion- refers to the possibility of the rectification of the diminution of the moon. Why did this not work?

Shlomo’s flaw was that he married foreign women. The Gemarra says that when he married the daughter of Pharaoh, the angel Gavriel fixed a reed in the ocean and from this was built the city of Rome that ultimately destroyed the Bais HaMikdash. There is a Midrash, that the day of the consecration of the Bais HaMikdash, Shlomo had the keys of the Bais HaMikdash under his pillow. The daughter of Pharaoh artificially created a night, and Shlomo continued to sleep, and the daily sacrifices were not brought. What we can understand happened here, is that Shlomo was supposed to overcome the night, and bring the Geulah. What the daughter of Pharaoh did was recreate a night, and the moon was once again diminished, and the seeds of the Churban were planted.

The end of the Bais HaMikdash is in the time of Tzidkiyahu. If Shlomo is the moon at its apogee, Tzidkiyahu is the nadir. His time is the time of complete darkness. Therefore, before he is taken to Bavel, he is blinded. This is the ultimate in darkness. However, just as the moon rejuvenates itself, the light of Torah Sh’Be’al Peh shines most brightly from the darkness of Bavel. As the Zohar HaKodesh teaches, initially darkness but ultimately light.

The month that represents the harmonizing of the solar and lunar year is the month of Adar. When there is a leap year, we add specifically an Adar. Thus Rav Tzadok says the added month of Adar is a time that reaches to the era of Moshiach, when the sun and moon will be of equal stature. Therefore, it is a time of tremendous potential to rectify sins. Purim is also the time of the beginning of Torah SheBea’l Peh. Esther is also the one who taught us, “Whoever says statement in the name of the original speaker, will bring Geulah to the world.” Esther herself is also called in Megillah, “Sihara”. The Maharal explains that this means – moon. Esther is the one who teaches us how to completely reflect the message that we receive, in order to bring Geulah. Thus in the month of Adar we find all these concepts joining together to begin the process of Geulah.

Every month there is a special prayer as the moon renews itself. This is said from when he moon begins to be visible till the apogee of the moon. We then daven for the restoration of the moon to its original status, and that should be the symbol of the complete Geulah. The focus of this unique prayer is that this new moon has not yet been sullied, and it represents the certainty that one month there will be a moon that will remain untouched and perfect and that month the moon will reach its fullness on the fifteenth of the month and then not diminish. This is the focus of our prayers and goals.


[i] This is what is brought in ספר הביר, the פרי עץ חיים (שער השופר פרק ה), and many other later ספרים – עולם מלשון העלם.

[ii] See קל”ח פתחי חכמה סוף פתח ד’.

  [iii]   ספר גור אריה על במדבר פרק כח פסוק טו “כי לשון ‘חטא’ פירושו חסרון, כדכתיב (בראשית לא, לט) “אנכי אחטנה מידי תבקשנה”, “קולע אל השערה ולא יחטא” (ר’ שופטים כ, טז), “והיה אני ובני שלמה חטאים”.

[iv] ספר השל”ה הקדוש – בעשרה מאמרות – מאמר שלישי ומאמר רביעי (מז) “ואז גם כן פירושו של מצוה מלשון צוותא שהוא ריעות”.

[v]  שם משמואל (פרשת תזריע – ר”ח ניסן):והנה במה שלעתיד תהי’ אור הלבנה כאור החמה פירשנו במק”א שענין מה שהלבנה מקבלת אור השמש ומאירה לארץ היא כענין מראה המלוטשת נגד החמה ששבה המראה להיות מאירה אל עבר פני’ לפי ערך זכות המראה וטובת הליטוש, ולעתיד שתהי’ הלבנה מלוטשת ומזוככת מאד תהי’ מאירה ביותר עד שתהי’ מאירה כאור החמה.

[vi]  שם משמואל פרשת ויקרא – וחודש שנת תרע”ד, “והנה כשנבראו המאורות היו שניהם שוין שנאמר את שני המאורות הגדולים, ומחמת קטרוג הלבנה נתמעטה. ואין הפירוש שלולא החטא הי’ לה אור מעצמה שלא מחמת השמש, שזה לא יתכן, שהרי כל סדר הבריאה ממעלה מעלה עד מטה הכל הוא בחינת משפיע ומקבל, והדברים ידועים למבינים שלא יתכן זולת זה. אלא הפירוש יש לומר שהי’ מהלכה בגלגל גבוה אשר לפי מהלכה היתה תמיד נוכח השמש, וע”כ לא הי’ לה שום מיעוט לעולם, וגם באשר הי’ מהלכה בגלגל גבוה לא היו לה ליקויים לעולם, כי סיבת הליקוי היא כשנכנס דבר מה ביניהם, וכאשר היתה מהלכת בגלגל גבוה לא הי’ שום דבר גורם ליקוי, וזה ידוע לתוכנים שכל הליקויים מתהוים רק מפאת שפלות מהלכה, וזהו הפירוש שנתמעטה הלבנה היינו שמהלכה בגלגל קטן יותר נמוך לארץ, וע”כ מסבבת את הגלגל בזמן מיעוט, שכל היקף הגלגל הוא מעט לעומת היקף הגלגל שהי’ מהלכה מקודם מיעוט הלבנה, וזה גורם הסרתה מאת נוכח פני השמש, וגורם הליקויים פעם יחשך אורה לגמרי ופעם יראה אורה כמבין עששית הכל כפי עכירות הדבר המסתיר את האור או אדים ואויר משחת ועכור כמובן, ולעתיד כאשר יהי’ התיקון הכללי יתוקנו שני הקלקולים האלה. וזה שאנו אומרים בברכת הלבנה למלאות פגימת הלבנה ולא יהי’ בה שום מיעוט, היינו שמעמדה יהי’ תמיד נוכח פני החמה שבזה תלוי המיעוט, זה תיקון אחד, ואמר עוד ויהי’ אור הלבנה כאור החמה, היינו שלא יהי’ שום דבר ביניהם המסתיר ומאפיל את האור לא מפאת הכוכבים, כי תשוב לסבב בגלגל הגדול, ולא שום דבר אחר, כי בזה”ז אין אויר העולם פנוי מאדים ורוחות רעות ובדברי חכז”ל שכל האויר מלא מזיקין, וע”כ אפי’ בזמן שאין ליקוי מפאת הכוכבים וגוף הארץ מ”מ אין אורה מבהיק כ”כ, וע”כ אף שאצלנו נראה ונחשב שהלבנה בטהרתה, הוא רק מחמת שלא ראינוה מעולם באופן אחר, כי באמת איננה בטהרתה אלא כמבין עששית, ולעתיד לבוא שיסורו כל המסכים והאויר יהי’ נקי יהי’ אור הלבנה כאור החמה זהו התיקון השני”

[vii]  של”ה הק’ ספר שמות – שובבי”ם ת”ת (א) , “

ועתה הנני נותן טעם למה בשנת העיבור מהראוי לעשות תשובה ביותר משאר השנים, רבותינו ז”ל אמרו (חולין ס, ב) שני המאורות הגדולים חמה ולבנה שוים נבראו, היו משתמשים בכתר אחד. ואחר כך מחמת הקטרוג אמר לה הקב”ה לכי ומעטי את עצמך. והנה רז”ל דברו בחמה ולבנה התחתונים הנראות לנו, אבל רומזים לחמה ולבנה העליונים וגבוה מעל גבוה, כמבואר לחכמי המקובלים. עוד נודע ונתפרסם בספריהם כי מכח ענין קטרוג הזה נמשך למטה קטרוג הקליפה, הוא היצר הרע הוא השטן היורד ומחטיא ועולה ומקטרג. ולעתיד יהיה אור הלבנה כאור החמה, ויתבטלו הקליפות ויהיו כולם יודעים את ה’ ולא יהיה יצר הרע. ועתה אודיעך, אם לא היה ענין מיעוט הירח, לא היה עולמים שום עיבור, כי בודאי אם היו משתמשים בכתר אחד היה סיבובם ומהלכם שוה. ועתה שנתפרדו אז אין מהלכם וסיבובם שוה, וצריכין לעשות שבע עיבורים במחזור, כדי להשוות שנות הלבנה דהיינו י”ב חדשי השנה, שיבא בשנה לשנת החמה שהיא שס”ה יום, כדי שיבא פסח בחודש האביב, וסוכות בשעתו בזמן האסיף. נמצאו העיבורין שבאו מכח הקטרוג, הם גרמו שנתהוו קטרוג שלמטה המביא לידי חטא, על כן בשעת (נ”א בשנת) העיבור ראוי ביותר לתשובה:”

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