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In the Mishna Berurah (426:1) it says (with loose translation):

ונשים פטורות מלקדש הלבנה דהוי מ"ע שהזמן גרמא ואף דכל מ"ע שהזמן גרמא נוהגות הנשים שמקיימות ומברכות עליהן מ"מ מצוה זו אין צריכין לקיימה משום דהם גרמו פגם הלבנה

Women are exempt from "sanctifying" the moon as it is a Positive Commandment which is "caused" by time. And even though women are accustomed to do all such Mitzvos either way, and say a Bracha when doing them, they do not need to do this Mitzvah because they caused the "defect" of the moon.

I assume that when the Mishnah Berurah says "defect" of the moon, he's referring to the story of the moon originally being the same "size" as the sun and shrinking (see How did the moon shrink?). Please correct me if this premise is wrong, and there was a different incident with the moon.

If so, what did women have to do with that story? Women weren't even created yet...


Note: I see that the משנה ברורה and מגן אברהם that mention this are quoting a של״ה. However, I have no idea where to look for it, so I would appreciate if anyone would point me in the right direction…

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    chabadtalk.com/forum/showthread.php3?p=6115 this is what says in Shlah (sahr Ho'osios ois kuf): "Mipnei shpegam ho-lvanah Gormoh ha-isho ha-rishona, dahynu chete Chava, umisrachkim mipnei habushe." (=because the defect of the moon was caused by the first woman, i.e. the sin of Chava, and they distance themself because of embarrasment.) He continues writing, that altough they mended their ways at the Egel incident, when they didn't sin, however, the moon still remains flawed nonetheless. – josh waxman Nov 20 '14 at 15:26
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    @josh waxman the shrinking of the Moon occurred before the sin on Chava – bondonk Nov 20 '14 at 15:28
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    דברי יציב (ר' יקותיאל יהודה הלברשטם, האדמו"ר מצאנז, או"ח צז דבאמת מה שכתב השל"ה שחוה גרמה פגם הלבנה אין לזה מובן ע"פ פשטות, שהרי הלבנה נתמעטה עוד לפני שנוצרה חוה, אבל הדברים עמוקין וטמורין ומבוארים ע"ד הנסתר ואין לי עסק בנסתרות. – Gershon Gold Nov 20 '14 at 15:29
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    @GershonGold If he has no Esek in Nistar then how does he know there is a deep secret convincing reason there? – Double AA Nov 20 '14 at 16:14
  • So either the shalah has a harmonization or else it is a conflicting midrash. See the discussion there – josh waxman Nov 20 '14 at 21:29
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The Mishna Berurah is quoting the Magen Avraham who in turn cites the Shelah as his source.

The של׳ה can be found in שער האותיות ק׳ קדושה אות כ׳ח says

מפני שפגם הלבנה גרמה האשה הראשונה דהיינו חטא חוה.

This is different than the מגן אברהם's wording

מפני שהם גרמו פגם הלבנה.

The של׳ה can be understood as saying the exact opposite, that the מיעוט הלבנה is connected to causing the original sin. I don't have an out right proof but if you read the section in the של׳ה מסכת פסחים פרק תורה אור #ז-י׳ג, with the long notes, I think you will lean towards reading the של׳ה like this as well.

This is not to say anyone misunderstood the Shelah. This rather an alternative reading in the source material.

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    If the moon caused Chava's sin, then why should women not say Kiddush Levana? – Double AA Nov 20 '14 at 16:30
  • They are still embarrased of their sin that brought death to the world. The moon somehow played a role, but Chava was not an onness. – user6591 Nov 20 '14 at 16:40
  • This doesn't answer the question. The question asked about the Mishnah Berurah's wording. – DonielF May 14 '17 at 12:49
  • @DonielF The answer is probably assuming (incorrectly AFAICT) that the MA and MB misunderstood the Shelah, but unless he clarifies that, you seem correct. – mevaqesh May 14 '17 at 16:32
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This question is asked by R. Yitshak Weiss in Minhat Yitshak (8:15). He answers based on the Lev Aryeh to Hullin 60b. An aggada states that the moon complained about its equivalence with the sun. To rectify this, the moon was lessened. The Lev Aryeh explains that the alternative solution; having the sun be increased, is not mentioned, since the sun's intensity was already diminished (cf. Hagigah 12a). Now, notes R. Weiss, why was the sun's output diminished--due to the future sins of Man, which led them to lose their merit in the light. Since those sins all resulted from the original sin, which was the impetus of Eve, it is her (indirect) fault that the moon had to be shrink, since the luminaries couldn't be made equal by increasing the sun.

And that...is the justification for women not to say Kiddush Levana.

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This article (near the end) states:

Why Do Women Not Say the “Sanctification”?

I. Horowitz asks why women do not say the “sanctification” in his Shela. He states: “We have never seen women observing the Kiddush Levanah, even though they are [generally] very careful about all prayers, because the first woman caused the moon’s pegam [defect; that is, the possibility that the moon would not return to its fullness], [through] the sin of Eve; and therefore they avoid [the rite] out of embarrassment. Even though they found a way to fix the matter later [that is, to remove the embarrassment for the female sex]: they fixed it [in the episode of the golden] calf when they did not sin and did not listen to the primeval serpent, which is Satan.” In other words, Rabbi Horowitz is saying that the first woman opened the door that made it possible for Satan and the demons to function in this world by allowing Satan to seduce her to do his will. These unleashed demons now threaten the moon, which may not resume its prior fullness. The men perform the “sanctification” to prevent this disaster. Women do not participate, he claims, because, had it not been for their sex, there would not have been a problem.

In the article, there is a footnote to the Shla"h that you mentioned, Shaar Ha’otiot, Kedushah 28.

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Without getting overly involved in a discussion of interpreting aggadeta and esoteric literature (particularly those that might relate to sod bereishis) I would lay down a few points that are potentially relevant to answering your question. Firstly, Medrash was not written to be taken too literally (see, e.g., the Rambam in his hakdama to the Pirush Hamishna, the Maharal in Be'er HaGolah, the GR'A in his commentary on Mishlei 1:3). Relatedly, we have an accepted rule of ein mukdam u'meuchar batorah which means that the torah, unlike history books written by men, does not follow a simple chronological order and is ordered according to a much deeper, conceptual system. Additionally, the original sin was not an arbitrary sequence of events. Rather, it reflected the basic, created, conceptual natures of the characters involved. Femininity is associated with night and the moon while masculinity is associated with day and the sun. Conceptually, the femininity that plays a role in the original sin is associated with the weaker, waning light of the moon. Thus the medrash is not stating a simple chronological relationship, just an associative one. (See also Rabbi Dr. Menahem Krakowski in his article on the allegories of the original sin in the journal Hakira)

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This is a good question. You are reading the end of the statement from the Mishnah Berurah backward.

דהם גרמו פגם הלבנה doesn't mean that the women caused, "garmu", the "blemish" in the moon, meaning its reduction. The plural personal pronoun for women is not “Hem" הם. It is “Hen" הן. So the statement cannot, according to the grammar, be referring to women.

What "hem" is referring to is the "actions", meaning מעשה, from מצות עשה, mitzvot of action or positive mitzvot. The plural would be מעשיות.The word "ma'aseh" is a masculine noun and in plural as a personal pronoun is "hem".

There are 248 positive commandments which correspond to the 248 limbs of the male body (Mishna Ohelot 1:8). Women on the other hand have 252 limbs according to Sefer Raziel or 251 according to the Mishnah Torah: Hilchot Tumat Meit 2:2. The 248 mitzvoth of action specifically relate to the male body and the masculine. Males are obligated in them all.

There were no mitzvot being performed at the time of the formation of the sun and the moon, meaning the two great luminaries. This happened on the fourth day (Bereshit 1:14) before the creation of HaAdam, which was on the sixth day (Bereshit 1:26). Therefore, "Garam" must be understood differently.

"Garam" is not, in this sentence from the Mishnah Berurah, a verb as in "garmu", but rather is a modified noun. The word "garam" is modified to show it is associated with a masculine noun. The noun, "HaLavanah" is feminine. It is thus associated with the noun "pagam" which is masculine. They, meaning women, are the effect of the "blemish" of the moon, meaning it's reduction and youth in comparison to the larger and older luminary, meaning the sun. It means that the "blemish" of the moon, meaning its reduction, is the cause, pronounced “garmo", of women and also these mitzvot of action being discussed.

And that is also the meaning of the phrase, "מצות עשה שהזמן גרמא". That the creation of time, meaning linear time, what we perceive as past, present and future, also called (זמן משוער) as discussed in Sefer HaIkkarim of Rabbi Yosef Albo, Second Discourse, Chapter 18, is the cause of these mitzvot of action.

Linear time came into being with the creation of the two great luminaries and the reduction of the moon. This is the emphasis of Bereshit 1:14 which says that the sun and moon are for seasons, new moons, days and years.

On the first day of creation, there was a revelation of a single light with no luminary source (Bereshit 1:3). This is an expression within creation of the concept that the Creator has no cause or source. (Mishnah Torah, Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah 1:1, 1:7, 1:11)

Time at that stage of creation was not measured. It was unmeasured time which is called (זמן בלתי משוער) as discussed in the Sefer HaIkkarim cited above. This means that past, present and future were at least potentially simultaneous. It is more like the idea of undifferentiated “existence” or in the words of Rambam, מצוי ראשון.

At a later stage in the creation, that light was divided into two separate components (Bereshit 1:14). This process related to what the Creator's original thought was in performing the creation. This process of starting as one and dividing into two separate parts was to bring into actualization the first thought of creation (Yafeh Toar to Bereshit Rabbah 8:1, Midrash HaGadol 2:22 in the name of Rabbi Abahu).

The "great luminaries", what would become the sun and the moon, were created on the 4th day. In their initial creation, they were of equal size, meaning they were indistinguishable. As recorded in Midrash and explained in Rashi's commentary (Bereshit 1:16), the moon made a complaint to the Creator that there could not be two Rulers and a single crown. If they remained indistinguishable, it would imply duality in regard to the Creator. (Mishnah Torah, Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah 1:6-7)

This complaint is based upon the contradiction of the concepts of “one”, (אחד), like "HaShem is one", and “other” (עוד). But the requirement is to know and proclaim “There is no other apart from Him", (אין עוד מלבדו),when manifest in creation.

For G-d,"the Infinite" meaning אין סוף, these are not a contradiction. That is because G-d is without limitation, בלי גבול. But for the creation, meaning finite beings, בעלי גבול, these two concepts are contradictory and impossible to bear.

As a consequence, the Creator reduced the size of the moon and made it the "smaller or younger light” (Bereshit 1:16). The "greater or older light" would have dominion over the day and the ""smaller light" would have dominion over the night. In context, it is worth pointing out that "greater" and "smaller" can also mean chronological maturity in Hebrew. And this would also agree with our understanding of when the sun was formed as compared to the moon. The moon is younger.

It is important to note that this change in the relationship between the sun and the moon, that they were no longer considered indistinguishable and identical, that the sun was now considered senior, meaning older than the younger moon, had a consequence.

When the sun "speaks", meaning when it shines, the moon is in silence. It is not seen. And because the moon is younger, it listens to, learns from and repeats the teachings of its elder, the sun. This is the idea that the light of the moon is actually a reflection of the suns light and is only seen when then sun is not present. This is the concept of Mashpia and Mekabel, Teacher and Student as well as Parent and Child.

This event set up a paradigm in the order of creation which later had impact on men and women.

On the sixth day, the initial creation of the human being being was androgynous (Bereshit Rabbah 8:1 in the name of the Tanna, Rabbi Yirmiyahu ben Elazar based upon Bereshit 1:27, See also Bereshit Rabbah 17:2 in the name of the Amora, Rabbi Chiya bar Gamda). This is why the name “HaAdam” (האדם) is associated with the phrase, "דומה לעליון", similar to "Above", meaning similar to the Creator (Bereshit 1:26). A single creature contained the potential for both the male and the female. They were like two limbs in one body. This is a manifestation of the same pattern which began with the single light of the first day. It was at this time that G-d gave HaAdam his commandments (Bereshit 1:15-17). And one of them was the prohibition to eat from the tree.

Following this, the Creator separated these two limbs into separate components like the formation of the two great luminaries from the one light of the first day and built the first woman from one of them (Bereshit 2:21-22). There was a division into two indistinguishable parts and then the portion that was to become the first woman was built, meaning modified. The first woman became like the moon, and was considered junior to the first man.

And the first man, Adam, who had not been modified and retained his knowledge of the commandments which the Creator had given him, taught the woman, Chava, what the Creator expected from them. And because he feared that she would not listen to him, he added to G-d's prohibition and told her that they could not eat or touch the tree of knowledge because they would die as a consequence (Ikkar Siftei Chochomim 4 on Bereshit 3:3). And this is exactly what she repeated to the serpent when it asked her what the Creator required of them. And the serpent created doubt in her mind by pushing her against the tree. She discovered that she did not die from contact with the tree. And that doubt opened her to the possibility of the serpent convincing her to eat.

Her transgression was caused through her requirement to listen to her elder, her teacher, the first man, Adam. And this requirement was a consequence of the reduction of the moon in regard to the sun.

Following the events of the sin of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the first woman was assigned by the Creator that relative position which was started by the moon (Bereshit 3:16).

And this is why women generally do not practice the sanctification of the moon as cited by the Shnei Luchot HaBrit, Sha'ar HaOtiot, Ot HaKuf-section Kedusha, with the words beginning, "There is a mitzvah which is dependent upon the mouth, and the eyes and the feet..." That from this reason (that the words of the kiddish levanah remind us that the moon was diminished and that in the future its light will be returned to be like the light of the sun) women distance themselves from this positive commandment even though they fulfill many commandments that are caused by time, for example shofar and lulav. We have never seen women fulfill the sanctification of the moon even though they are scrupulous in regard to all the prayers. Because the diminishment of the moon was the cause of the first woman, meaning Chava's sin. And they distance themselves because of embarrassment..."

The words of the Shnei Luchot HaBrit are exactly as explained above.

The emphasis is that a large part of a woman's being, her constitution, is connected to the influence of the cycle of time and specifically to the lunar cycle. It is for this reason that, in general, women are not obligated in positive commandments which are time bound or "caused by time".

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