By: Rabbi Ari Enkin
Although technically Kiddush Levana may be recited upon the first sighting of the new moon, common custom is never to do so. Most people wait at least 3 days, 72 full hours, after the appearance of the new moon before reciting Kiddush Levana. The deadline for reciting it is no later than 15 full days. Some recommend waiting at least 7 days before reciting it. In the month of Av it is best to recite Kiddush Levana only after Tisha B’av. In Tishrei, many have the custom to recite Kiddush Levana only after Yom Kippur has passed, while others explicitly do so before Yom Kippur, in order to have that mitzva added to their merits on the holy day. Some wait until after the seventh of Adar to recite Kiddush Levana in that month.
One who has completely missed the deadline for Kiddush Levana should at least read the section of Gemara which discusses Kiddush Levana. In this way one will have incidentally recited the blessing in the course of “study”. Alternatively, one may opt to recite the Kiddush Levana without mentioning God’s name in the blessing. It is best not to recite Kiddush Levana on Shabbat as God’s Abode is outside the “Techum” the permitted distance that one is allowed to travel on Shabbat. While one may recite Kiddush Levana alone, it is best recited in the presence of as many people as possible, preferably with at least a minyan.
Kiddush Levana may only be recited at night when the moon is dominant and one can derive benefit from its light. It should not be recited if the moon is covered by heavy clouds, though a slight cloud covering is acceptable as long as the moon is clearly visible. Although Kiddush Levana should really be recited outdoors without any overhead covering, in situations where this would be difficult it may be recited if the moon can be seen from one’s window. One should not be lazy nor try to concoct excuses to exempt oneself from Kiddush Levana.
One must be sure that there are no dog droppings or other unbecoming objects in the area where one recites Kiddush Levana. It is taught that one should never stare at the moon unnecessarily. There is a widespread custom to shake out and check one’s Tzitzit immediately following Kiddush Levana. Among the reasons for this custom is to show our anticipation for the Messianic era when the mitzva of Tzitzit will apply at night. It is recommended for one to gaze at some silver coins or other monies after having recited Kiddush Levana. Women are exempt from reciting Kiddush Levana,as they are considered responsible for the moon’s monthly diminishing cycle. Those who are blind are not required to recite Kiddush Levana.
Kiddush Levana concludes with the Aleinu prayer which focuses on our faith and commitment to God, lest anyone get carried away to suggest that we were actually praying to the moon. Indeed, we are not to stare at the moon any time during the recitation of Kiddush Levana but merely to glance at it prior to reciting the opening blessing. Aleinu is also recited to recall that it was composed by Yehoshua who is compared to the moon. A mourner’s Kaddish should then be recited. Those who have recited Kiddush Levana together should spend a few moments dancing afterwards, “similar to the celebrations of a wedding”. It is taught that one who has recited Kiddush Levana will not die a ‘mita meshuna’ during that month.
 Magen Avraham 426:13, Aruch Hashulchan 426:13, Shalmei Mo’ed Chapter 6
 Mishna Berura 426:20
 Rambam Berachot 10:17, O.C. 426:3, Mishna Berura 426:18,20
 O.C. 426:4
 Minhag Yisrael Torah 426:4
 Minhag Yisrael Torah 426:5
 Sanhedrin 42a
 Minhag Yisrael Torah 426:13
 Ta’amei Haminhagim 454
 Magen Avraham 426:6
 Rema 426:1, Mishna Berura 426:2, Aruch Hashulchan 426:5
 Mishna Berura 426:3
 Magen Avraham O.C. 426:1
 Rema 426:4
 Mishna Berura 426:21, Kaf Hachaim 426:63
 Orchot Chaim of the Rosh 54
 Kaf Hachaim 426:64
 Be’er Heitev 426:6
 Kaf Hachaim 426:48, Minhag Yisrael Torah 426:10
 Kaf Hachaim 426:49
 Mishna Berura 426:1, Ha’isha V’hamitzvot Vol. 1
 Shraga Hameir 4:12
 Aruch Hashulchan 426:14
 Biur Halacha 426
 Mishna Berura 426:13, Sha’ar Hatziun 14
 Minhag Yisrael Torah O.C. 426:8
 Minhag Yisrael Torah O.C. 426:9
 Rema O.C. 426:2
 Eliya Rabba 602