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For example, in many shuls, there is a "Shabbos Mevarchim" kiddush, and I know of many people who try extra hard to be in shul that week (like it's parshas zachor or something). Is there any reason behind this?

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Do you know of any source that there's more reason to be in shul for Mevarchim? I've never heard of such a thing – Matt Apr 27 '14 at 7:11
@Matt - That's part of the question. – Shmuel Apr 27 '14 at 7:41
Well, I thought there could be somethign else like a historical source that mentions people going to shul for the week before Rosh Chodesh, like a memior or newspaper article or something – Matt Apr 27 '14 at 7:53
Maybe. I haven't looked. This question is based on personal experience. – Shmuel Apr 27 '14 at 7:53
up vote 1 down vote accepted

'Mevarchim Chodesh', by the way, is called in most mizrahi siddurim 'Hachrazat Hachodesh'

Many count 'kiddush hachodesh' to be a mitzvah (Rambam Aseh 153, Chinuch 3). Even though the ceremony done in Shul on Shabbos Mevarchim is very different than the actual Kiddush Hachodesh (which involves witnesses coming to court after having seen the new moon, being cross-examined, and then the judges announce that that same day is Rosh Chodesh), the Ramban (Sefer Hamitzvos of the Rambam, on Aseh 153) and the Behag (who he quotes) believe that the months are established according to what we do in shul on Shabbos Mevarchim. Hence, there may be an extra mitzvah gained by being part of this. However, I haven't seen anyone who makes this connection explicit.

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That is a way better answer. Can you post it as such (i.e. as a separate answer instead of a comment) please? – Matt Apr 30 '14 at 5:12

There is a machlokes involving the Rambam and the Ramban regarding the announcement. This is from memory of a shiur I attended as I do not have the sources available. There are those that say that the setup of the fixed calendar included the official determination of the month until the coming of the Mashiach. As a result, nothing further would need to be done. However, there are those who state that in actuality, the announcement each Shabbos Mevorchim is the equivalent of our continuing to accept the fixed calendar by the bais din. As a result, if there were ever a month in which it was not declared, the calendar could become batel. There are also those who say that this applies only in Eretz Yisroel and that this is also the reason that the time announced is always Yerushalayim (Solar) time. It is the equivalent of stating what the Sanhedrin would announce once it is reinstituted.

In the time of the Sanhedrin, the announcement on Shabbos Mevorchim would enable the potential witnesses to go and be available to testify before the Sanhedrin. In fact there are people who go to the hills of Yerushalayim to see and photograph the new moon every month so that when the Sanhedrin is reinstituted, they will be expert enough to testify properly.

Israeli New Moon Society

The commandment (mitzvah) of sanctifying the month is the first one which the Children of Israel were commanded on leaving Egypt. This commandment is of great importance because the dates of the festivals, including over 60 commandments, depend on it. In addition to sanctifying months according to the appearance of the New Moon, the Hebrew calendar depends on leap years (extended by an extra month) that depend on the position of the Sun, ripeness of grains, etc. For over a thousand years, the Hebrew calendar has been fixed by calculation. Today, the Hebrew calendar does not match that fixed by observing the Moon. Even thought the gap between the two calendars continues to increase, we do not have the authority to alter the calendar until a new Sanhedrin (religious high court) is reestablished and is widely recognized. While sanctification of the month according to observation is not practiced today it is important to carry out calculations and practice observing the New Moon in order to be ready for when the Sanhedrin is reestablished. Likewise, there is increasing involvement in the Temple, red heifer, etc. Of course, we are not intending to change the current calendar (this is a task for an authorized Sanhedrin) but just to increase involvement in and embellish the Torah.
In recent years, a number of individuals and groups have begun to observe the Moon each month to practice for the commandment of observing the Moon and for determining criteria for the limits of visibility. The is still plenty of room to improve on the existing criteria using observations and analyzing them in relation to physical, meteorological and physical parameters. We, the Israeli New Moon Society, are asking the public at large to join us by trying to observe the New Moon at the beginning of each month. The Israeli New Moon Society was founded for this purpose by Rabbi Dr. Nachum Rabinovitch, head of Yeshivat Birkat Moshe, Maale Adumim. The society works with the Institude for Kiddush Hachodesh Studies and includes scientists and rabbis from Universities, Yeshivot and elsewhere.
The Israeli New Moon Society presents the subject from the point of view of Rabbinical Orthodox Judaism.

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'''As a result, if there were ever a month in which it was not declared, the calendar could become batel''' This cant be right since we do not 'bench' tishrai and the calender still exists. – preferred May 2 '14 at 16:34
The reason we dont bench tishri is to be 'mearvev the soton'. – preferred May 2 '14 at 16:34
The reason the time is announced is to tell us how long one can be mechadesh the moon. – preferred May 2 '14 at 16:36

Your question seems vague as to what you mean by "special" and what causes people to come on this day more than others. In my opinion, many shuls sponsor a large kiddush on Shabbat mevarchim. So, perhaps, it's the food / kiddush that attracts more people?

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I think chabad have a minhag to lain often and give everyone an aliya. – preferred May 2 '14 at 16:37

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