[Avodah] 15 Av

Akiva Miller akivagmiller at gmail.com
Sat Aug 17 20:11:50 PDT 2019

R' Allan Engel wrote:

> What compels you to believe that every derasha (in this case Atem
> afilu shogegin etc) was already known in the desert? Or, in fact,
> to any generation prior to the derasha being expounded?
> The paradigm that allowed new derashos on pesukim (until 'sof
> mishna' - presumably the end of the era of Tannaim) explicitly allows
> for changes in halachic practice on the basis of new derashos.

I had not thought of that, probably because I'm so very used to the
opposite, that Moshe Rabenu knew everything. A good example of what I am
used to would be "Moavi v'lo Moaviah", which (as explained to me) was NOT a
new drasha of Boaz's, but was simply a little-known halacha that had been
kept hidden until Boaz publicized it.

New drashos were indeed propounded now and then, but I'm used to a
presentation similar to that of Ben Zoma in the Haggada, where a specific
person is credited with darshening the drasha. I don't see such
accreditation in this case, so I'm a bit hesitant to accept this as an
answer to my problem. RAE may be correct, but I'd like to see more evidence
for it.

For those who want to learn more about the drasha that RAE is referring to,
it is on Rosh Hashana 25a, and is cited by the Torah Temimah Vayikra 23:4,
#18 and #19.

I had posted:

> I noticed that Rashi never used the phrase "Kiddush Hachodesh".
> Rather, he used the phrase "cheshbon [ha]chodesh", and (perhaps
> significantly) he used it *twice*. Is it possible that the Beis
> Din did not declare any particular day to be Rosh Chodesh of that
> month? I have always thought that the Beis Din declared every
> single month, from Nisan 2448 until some time after Churban Bayis
> Sheni, and this would obviously include the time in the Midbar.
> But if this did not actually happen, and rather each individual
> "calculated" the month on their own, then Rashi could make sense.
> Any thoughts? Did we do Kiddush Hachodesh in the Midbar?

I spent much of Shabbos discussing this with several friends, and I now
thank them for their input, which helped greatly with the rest of this post

Rabbenu Bachye on Shmos 12:2 quotes Rabbenu Chananel, that for the 40 years
in the Midbar, Kiddush Hachodesh must have been Al Pi Cheshbon, and not Al
Pi R'iyah, because the moon (and sun) could not be seen for that entire
time, because the Ananei Hakavod were blocking the view. This shows me that
we DID do Kiddush Hachodesh in the Midbar, and it also provides a simple
answer to why Rashi used the word "cheshbon".

A friend raised a question: If the moon could not be seen, how could they
have seen the full moon on the night of 15 Av? Someone else answered that
the Ananei Hakavod left when Aharon Hakohen passed away, and someone else
pointed out that he died on Rosh Chodesh Av of that same year -- nine days
before the Tisha B'av in question.

(This sudden visibility of the moon after 40 years in which no one saw it,
is a great answer to the first question I posed in this thread, in Avodah
6:13. Namely: To most of us modern city folk, the night sky is a mystery.
But 3300 years ago, even children could probably have seen the difference
between a 9-day-old moon and an older one; they certainly could have
figured it out by the 13th or 14th, and should not have needed to see the
entire circle on the 15th. But now I understand. Many of those people had
never seen the moon before in their lives, and for the rest, it had been 40
years ago. They were less familiar with the night sky than we are! So, yes,
I can easily believe that their safek lasted all the way to the full moon.)

The sequence of events seems to be: The molad of Av occurred while the
clouds were still obscuring the moon, so the Beis Din were mekadesh it
based on their calculations. Then, on Rosh Chodesh, Aharon died and the
clouds left. The moon was probably visible (depending on local weather) on
the night of Tisha B'Av, but that doesn't really matter, because people
were unfamiliar with what a nine-day-old moon should look like. All they
had to go on was that fact that Rosh Chodesh was declared based on
mathematical calculations rather than physical evidence. So the next
morning they figured the calculations must have been in error. Ditto for
several more days, until Tu b'Av, when even people who were unfamiliar with
the moon's appearance were able to figure out what happened.

All of this is neat and reasonable, except the part about how Kiddush
Hachodesh is valid even in the case of an error. I'm tentatively accepting
RAE's suggestion, and if anyone else has any other ideas, I'm all ears.

Akiva Miller
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