[Avodah] The Moon By Night; A Wrinkle In Time

Jay F. Shachter jay at m5.chicago.il.us
Fri Apr 9 07:11:37 PDT 2021

>> I have often contended that, in the era of the Korban Pesach, an
>> average person would not have the expertise or equipment to
>> calculate Chatzos Layla, and that therefore the people must have
>> been careful to finish eating the Korban early in the night
> Well, since it's the middle of the month, at midnight the moon would
> be overhead at the zenith at midnight.

Where do you live?  In Eretz Yisrael, the moon is never directly
overhead.  Maybe you meant that the moon would be at its highest point
for that night.  How are you going to know when the moon reaches its
highest point of the night?  You'd have to wait until it starts to go
lower, and only then would you know that it had been at its highest
point, a moment earlier.  Are you then going to travel back in time?

This reminds me of something that I may have mentioned before on this
mailing list, and if so I apologize for repeating myself, but I think
I have mentioned it up until now only in spoken conversation and not
in writing.  When I was in Senegal a few years ago, I had the occasion
to say Qiddush Lvanah when the moon was almost directly overhead.
Anshei Khnesseth Haggdolah, who established the benediction Mxaddesh
Xodashim to be recited on such an occasion, never saw the moon
directly overhead.  They never spoke to or heard of anyone who had
ever seen the moon directly overhead.  They did not know that there
were any inhabited places on the globe from which you could see the
moon directly overhead.  Thus, I was about to recite a benediction
under circumstances that were wholly unenvisioned and uncontemplated
by the people who had established the benediction.  More specifically:
the thing that I was seeing, was not what Anshei Khnesseth Haggdolah
were thinking of, when they established a benediction to be recited
when seeing it.  So I wondered whether I should, in fact, recite the
benediction.  I was not much concerned, and I recited the benediction
bshem umalkhuth, but I did think that it was an interesting question.

                        Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter
                        6424 North Whipple Street
                        Chicago IL  60645-4111
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                                jay at m5.chicago.il.us

                        "Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur"

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