Is anything wrong with looking at the moon?
In the olden days, it was considered reprehensible to look at the moon because in the olden days there were moon worshippers. But today, when you look at the moon, so if it’s just wasting time, so better to look in a sefer. What are you wasting time with the moon for? But if you look at the moon in order to see the chasdei Hashem, then you’re doing a good thing. It all depends on the kavana, on your intent.
When a person says the birchas ha’levana, so the gemara says that it’s considered כמקבל פני השכינה – It’s as if he’s greeting Hakodosh Boruch Hu. It’s a remarkable thing – it’s like he’s greeting Hashem. How can we say such a thing?!
The answer is that when you understand the chasdei Hashem that the moon represents, then you’re getting a new hasagah, a new level of understanding, a more tangible feeling that you’re standing in the presence of Hashem. That’s what the gemara is telling us. It’s telling us that looking at the moon will teach us about Hashem and it will make us more aware of Hashem – by means of thinking about the wonders of the moon.
Now, the moon happens to be just a planet. It could have been a distant planet. Why is it so close to us? The answer is that the closeness of the moon has very many beneficial effects on this earth. Do you know that the moon controls the tides? It’s very important for us. And it controls many functions of the earth. Besides, it’s also a night-lamp – it’s not too strong so it allows us to sleep, but it’s just enough to help us out if we have to go out on the street to go to the beis hamedrash. And so, we enjoy the beauty of the moon: ברה כחמה יפה כלבנה – it’s beautiful. If you look at the moon and you thank Hakodosh Boruch Hu for the moon, it makes you more aware of Hashem. And that’s why it’s כמקבל פני השכינה.
TAPE # 914 (May 1993)