chaim asked:

what is the difference in the history of kiddush levana vs. mkadeshing the chodesh by the Beis Din? i.e. in the times of the Temple did people do Kiddush Levana in any format? all ? some? after they heard there was a new month ? as early as possible (i.e. the witnesses made it when they saw it?)

chaim, ny, usa

The Kollel replies:

The Berachah of Kidush Levanah is not a replacement for, nor is it related to, the process of Kiddush ha'Chodesh performed by Beis Din. Kidush Levanah is a Berachah (Sanhedrin 42a) that was enacted to be recited upon the siting of the new moon, like other Birchos ha'Ro'eh that were enacted to be recited upon seeing other things, such as a rainbow, a natural wonder, or strange creatures.

D. Zupnik

chaim asked again:

That I understand but see the Maharsha there. I am askng if they did this bracha in the times of the Temple and if so when?? They did not have the Kabbalah Seven day rule then so did they do it ASAP and not wait to hear the new month was made by Beis Din?

The Kollel replies:

The Rambam in Hilchos Berachos (10:1) says that the Chachamim instituted various Berachos for all types of circumstances. One of those listed is Kidush Levanah. It would seem, therefore that it belongs to the set of Berachos that Ezra and his Beis Din (known as the Anshei K'neses ha'Gedolah (see Hakdamah of Rambam to Mishneh Torah)) instituted. Furthermore, the Rambam (Berachos 1:5) says that all Berachos were instituted by Ezra and his Beis Din. If so Kidush Levanah was instituted at the beginning of the Second Temple.

I understand that this does not seem to be compatible with the Maharsha, but I would argue that it is not a contradiction. The second Temple was not considered a complete replacement for the first one, since it lacked key factors, including ha'Shra'as ha'Shechinah (see Yoma 21b and Ramban Bechukosai 26:16). Therefore it was appropriate even in the time of the Bayis Sheni for the Berachah to allude to the fact that in the future Klal Yisrael would be Zocheh to be m'Kabel P'nei Shechinah.

Additionally, it is possible that even before Kidush Levanah was instituted, and even at the time of the First Temple, individuals recited Kidush Levanah of their own volition.

Dov Freedman