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The version of Kiddush Levanah printed in the Conservative movement's siddur omits the verse "כשם שאני רוקד כנגדך..." I've heard that this is because the Conservative movement believes that in an age when we can put a man on the moon, the line "ואיני יכול לנגוע בך" is no longer applicable. Is it true that this is the reason for the line's omission in the Conservative Kiddush Levanah, and if so, is there a source that backs up this historical claim?

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Related:… – Isaac Moses Nov 5 '13 at 16:38

2 Answers 2

It wouldn't surprise me.

Nefesh HaRav quotes some Orthodox rabbis who were disturbed by the phrase as it implies it's impossible to touch the moon; some wanted to simply change the phrase from "I cannot touch you" to "I am not touching you" (i.e. at this very moment). Rabbi Soloveichik felt that was the understanding of the original phrase: "just as I dance here but cannot touch you [while I am dancing here on Earth ...]"

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I really don't get what people were so excited about. When the Torah says that Torah knowledge is obtainable by saying that it's not "across the sea," is that supposed to imply that no one has ever crossed the sea? Also, people who have ever touched the moon are a minority too small to account for ("she-eino matzui"), and people who can touch it now are zero. If I had a one-millionth of a penny for every time someone said "I cannot touch X," where X is something a human has once touched, I'd be the wealthiest person ever. – Isaac Moses Nov 5 '13 at 17:30
@IsaacMoses I think some people will latch on to anything that even remotely smells like "science trumping religion." – Shalom Nov 5 '13 at 17:47

I used to also be troubled by this line. But taken literally, it makes perfect sense. In fact, in the 40+ years since going to the moon, if anything we have seen just how hard it is to do. Just as a little hop won't bring me to the moon (because of the laws of physics), so too should my enemies be hopelessly defeated (even/especially by natural means). And just to make extra sure, I have even taken to the custom of making particularly half-hearted efforts to jump while saying the verse in question.

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If a Jewish astronaut went to the Moon and happened to be there at the right time for kiddush levana, it'd probably be a good idea for him to alter the words. And also to take half-hearted jumps, so he won't end up too far away. – Isaac Moses Jun 11 at 18:54
For more related halakhic questions, see – Jeremy Jun 11 at 19:23

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