By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld
The Mishna in Meseches Sofrim, Perek Chof, halacha alef and bais and the Tur in siman taf chaf vov say that one should only make Kiddush Levana on Motzai Shabbos when he smells good and is wearing nice clothing. The Trumas Hadeshen in siman lamed heh says that if one sees the new moon during the week, it is preferable for him to wait until Motzai Shabbos to say Kiddush Lavana. This is provided that there will be opportunities to say Kiddush Levana after Motzai Shabbos. If the forecast predicts cloudy weather, there may not be any nights available to say Kiddush Levana. The Shulchan Aruch in siman taf chaf vov, seif bais also paskens this way. The Mishna Berura explains that wearing nice clothing during Kiddush Levana is considered a mitzvah min hamuvchar (best way of doing the mitzvah.) The Levush in ois daled says that if one is mekadesh the levana during the week, he should put on Shabbos clothing, but the Elya Rabba says that this is not our minhag. The Kaf Hachaim says in the name of the Pri Chodosh that one should at least put on a Shabbos hat when saying Kiddush Levana during the week.
The Mishna Berura in the Biur Halacha on seif bais s,v. ela says that despite the fact that one may be mekadesh the levana by himself, lekatchila it should be said “broiv am”(with many people). The Eishel Avraham explains that “broiv am” means with a minyan. The Chayei Adam writes that saying it with three people is considered “broiv am.” The Mishna Berura in Shaar Tziyun, siman resh yud gimmel, ois yud gimmel explains that the aspect of “broiv am” is a “hiddur mitzvah” (beautifying the mitzvah.) The Chayei Adam in klal heh, ois yud zayin says that it is a mitzvah min hamuvchar to be mekadesh the levana “broiv am.”
The following question arises when the parameters mentioned above get combined. What should a person do if he has the opportunity to do Kiddush Levana on Motzai Shabbos while fresh and dressed well, but he does not have the “broiv am”? Is it better for him to say it during the week with other people, although he may not be smelling fresh and will not be wearing Shabbos clothing? Which aspect is more important?
It is mashma from the Trumas Hadeshen that hiddur mitzvah comes first. The Trumas Hadeshen in siman lamed bais discusses what brachos come before others. For example, imagine a scenario where one has bread baked in a non-Jewish bakery that is better tasting than bread from a Jewish bakery. The one who is making the bracha eats pas palter, but the rest of the household is makpid on pas Yisroel. The one who makes the brachashould do so on the better tasting bread that he prefers, despite the fact that the “roiv am” in his household will not eat it. The Maharshal explains that normally we would say that they all should be yotzei with one bracha, but in this case the household should split and the one who eat pas palter should make hamotzi on the pas palter while the rest of the family on pas Yisroel. We see from the above that hiddur mitzvah comes before “b’roiv am”.
On the other hand, the opposite is true in the Biur Halacha, siman taf chaf vov, seif bais s.v. ela. A discussion takes place concerning the following scenario. If someone knows he will have a minyan after Motzai Shabbos, before the tenth day of the month, it is preferred that he wait to say it then, rather than when he is fresh and dressed in Shabbos clothing. We see from here that the concept of “broiv am” supersedes the hiddur mitzvah.
The above concept isn’t so simple. We see in many places in Shulchan Aruch that hiddur mitzvah takes precedence over the concept of zrizus, so hiddur mitzvah should definitely take precedence over “broiv am.”However, according to the Biur Halacha in siman taf chaf vav s.v. ela, “broiv am” takes precedence over zrizus.
Kiddush Levana is our chance to be mekabel the Shechina. Let us do it in a presentable way.