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I sometimes hear mention of certain days being called a "hidden yom tov." Examples include Rosh Chodesh, Hoshana Rabba and Erev Yom Kippur.

I have a few questions related to this:

  • What does it mean that a day is a hidden yom tov, and what is the purpose?
  • What is the source of this concept, and how do we know what days these are?
  • What are all of the days that we know are hidden yamim tovim, and might there be additional days that we don't know about?
  • Will there come a time when hidden yamim tovim are "revealed"? What will be different then?
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    "might there be additional days that we don't know about?" Of course. They're just hidden.
    – Double AA
    Nov 6, 2013 at 23:31
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    In all of my learning, I must admit that I have never heard of this concept, at least not how it is being expressed here. I would like to help, but it is difficult unless you can share an example of where you heard this phrase, from whom you heard, the context in which you heard, etc. Also, did you hear it in English, Yiddish, or Hebrew? After obtaining some more information, it may become easier to answer you question. Kol tuv.
    – user3342
    Nov 7, 2013 at 4:59
  • related? judaism.stackexchange.com/a/10733/759
    – Double AA
    Nov 7, 2013 at 8:40
  • English. The linked question above is a great example of this. I've also encountered this term applied to Purim and Lag BaOmer. Here is another example of the term being used: revach.net/tefila/article.php?id=4098
    – Premundane
    Nov 7, 2013 at 20:13
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    @ninamag All the best to you in tracking down the meaning and sources on כסה, but your inquiry does not relate to my original question.
    – Premundane
    Sep 7, 2022 at 18:31

1 Answer 1

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A start of an answer - predominantly aimed at answering @ninamag

It writes Tehillim 81:4

תִּקְע֣וּ בַחֹ֣דֶשׁ שׁוֹפָ֑ר בַּ֝כֵּ֗סֶה לְי֣וֹם חַגֵּֽנוּ

Blow the shofar on the new moon, at the appointed time for our festival day.

As @ninamag asserts the word "בַּ֝כֵּ֗סֶה" in this context means appointed (as explained by Rashi, the Malbim Biur Hamilos, Radak and Metzudas Dovid). However, it is worth noting the Ibn Ezra who explains that the choice of wording is such because:

וטעם בכסה – שהלבנה מתכסה בו והנה כן משפט כל חדש

And the explanation of "בכסה" is that the moon is concealed on that day and that is the rule for every new moon.

The Gemara in Rosh Hashanah 8a - 8b explains likewise:

מִמַּאי דְּתִשְׁרִי הוּא? דִּכְתִיב: ״תִּקְעוּ בַחֹדֶשׁ שׁוֹפָר בַּכֵּסֶה לְיוֹם חַגֵּנוּ״, אֵיזֶהוּ חַגשֶׁהַחֹדֶשׁ מִתְכַּסֶּה בּוֹ — הֱוֵי אוֹמֵר זֶה רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה. וּכְתִיב: ״כִּי חֹק לְיִשְׂרָאֵל הוּא מִשְׁפָּט לֵאלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב״

The Gemara raises a question: From where is it known that the day of judgment is in Tishrei? As it is written: “Blow a shofar at the New Moon, at the covered time for our Festival day” (Psalms 81:4). Which is the Festival day on which the moon is covered, i.e., hidden? You must say that this is Rosh HaShana, which is the only Festival that occurs at the beginning of a month, when the moon cannot be seen. And it is written in the next verse: “For this is a statute for Israel, a judgment of the God of Jacob” (Psalms 81:5), implying that this is the day of judgment. (Sefaria translation and notation)

Simply put, all other Jewish holidays occur later in the month, when most of the moon is visible. Only Rosh Hashanah occurs at the very beginning of the month when the moon is still covered.

With this in mind, perhaps that's why Rosh Chodesh, as mentioned in the question, is regarded as a hidden yom tov as it is at a time when the moon is hidden.


EDIT

(In addition to the above, I am reminded of the minhag that some people have to eat kreplach in their soup on some of the days you suggest in the question, the idea being that just like the meat is not visible from the outside, it is appropriate for the "hidden" nature of the day. (Not yet seen it officially in a source). I know people who have the custom to have them on erev Yom Kippur, Hoshanah Rabba and Purim. I imagine possibly with the first two instances; it may well lie with the fact that we are all undergoing an intense judgement period that only G-d knows the outcome of. Yom Kippur being the day in which our judgement is sealed and Hoshanah Rabbah when it is "posted" and thus there are those who eat Kreplach as nod to this concealed and hidden nature of the day. Similarly, Purim is known as a story that was full of hester panim and so is likewise appropriate to partake of the kreplach custom.)

As far as Yom Kippur - in the answer here the Bnei Yissascher, cheilek 2, maamar 8, os 2 (last paragraph) when speaking about why masechta Yoma is so-called and is not more specific to the day of Yom Kippur it writes:

והנה תמצא גם בתורה שבעל פה, המסכתא המדברת מענין מצות היום לא נקרא שמה על שם היום יום הכיפורים (כאינך שבת, פסחים, ראש השנה, סוכה) רק נקרא יומא, להורות קדושת היום הוא ממקום נעלם ראוי להסתירו, על כן מנהג אנשי מעשה שלא להזכיר שמו כל כך בפשיטות באיזה דברים, רק כשמזכירים מענינו לאיזה הצטרכות קוראים אותו סתם יום הקודש ודי בזה למשכיל (עיין ברכה משולשת פתיחה למסכת יומא)

And behold you find also with the Torah Sheba'al Peh (Oral Law), the tractate speak about the specific mitzvah of the day, yet it (masechta yoma) is not named after the day Yom Kippur (not like Shabbos, Pesachim, Rosh Hashanah, Succah) rather only it is called 'Yoma'? To teach you that the sanctity of the day is from a hidden place and is fitting to be concealed, therefore people of deeds don't mention its name as in the simple understanding, rather it is only when we are reminded of the subject matter and for what need it is called, that is just the Holy Day and that is enough to understand (Refer to the Bracha meshuleshes, in the introduction to masechta yoma).

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  • Thank you for the sefaria link, which show a double column. On the left column, the JPS translated the word כסה into English as "full moon", whereas on the right column, all the writings are untranslated Hebrew, and the same word כסה you are claiming is translated as "appointed" by other authorities, whereas Ibn Ezra translated כסה as "hidden". What did Ibn Ezra say that convinced you he is using the word כסה as "hidden"?
    – ninamag
    Sep 5, 2022 at 12:57
  • The Ibn Ezra is saying it in relation to the new moon being covered - I don't quite understand what you're asking?
    – Dov
    Sep 5, 2022 at 13:01
  • I understand and agree that Ibn Ezra translates כסה as "hidden", but why do Rashi, the Malbim Biur Hamilos, Radak and Metzudas Dovid translate כסה as "appointed"?
    – ninamag
    Sep 5, 2022 at 13:18
  • Because they are choosing to interpret it with an alternative translation. Many words in lashon hakodesh can have more than one meaning. In this case, Rashi explains that כסה can also mean appointed as seen by its use in Mishlei 7:20 - sefaria.org/Proverbs.7.20?lang=bi For the commentators that translate it as "appointed" is because they see the main focus of the verse as being the fact that a chag is a specific appointed time.
    – Dov
    Sep 5, 2022 at 13:22
  • Alternatively, Sforno reads the word כֵּסֶה as cognate with כִּסֵא, throne. The idea being that RH is our festive day despite the fact the G-d sits on HIs throne judging the people. So it is not one size fits all when it comes to translation.
    – Dov
    Sep 5, 2022 at 13:26

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