Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: More On Not Saying שהחיינו On Friday Night

I am very excited to report that a TftD topic ended up as a discussion topic at someone's Shabbos table (not mine :) ).  I am even more excited that questions were generated.  I am just over the top that the questions were forwarded to me.  I shall therefore endeavor to answer those questions in the very same venue that generated them.  That itself is exciting for me, as I have confidence that at least one person will actually read this.  Woo-hoo!  Livin' the good life.

Recall that there are two factors that determine when the bracha of שהחיינו is required:  The event brings one enjoyment/fun and it happens from time to time, not continuously.  Even though Shabbos seems to fit these criteria, R' Moshe says (as reported here) that one is always either celebrating Shabbos or preparing for it.  Shabbos, therefore, does not come from time to time and, ipso facto, a שהחיינו is not required (nor, of course, even permitted).

The questions on the table are:
  1. One the "time to time" requirement: Preparing for Shabbos is only a hechsher mitzvah, not the mitzvah itself; the mitzvah itself, though, certainly is "time to time".
  2. On the enjoyment requirement: מצוות לאו ליהנות ניתנו/mitzvos were not given for our pleasure/enjoyment/fun... so why would I even think that I should make a שהחיינו  for Shabbos?
In answer to the first question, the שהחיינו is a bracha of praise for the funness of the event, not on the mitzvahness of the event.  Funness takes a few forms, one is the fun of anticipation (which is what allows us to make a שהחיינו upon seeing a new fruit).  There is also, though, the fun of the preparations themselves.  Have you noticed that we only make a שהחיינו on the first waving of the lulav?  Not on both of the first days, as you might expect.  That is because the שהחיינו could have been said from the time the lulav was made, but the custom is to wait till waving it the first time (analogously to waiting to make the שהחיינו  when eating a new, even though you could have made it upon seeing the new fruit on the tree).  Similarly, the order of שהחיינו and לישב בסוכה is different on the first and second days to highlight that on the first day the שהחיינו  is also going on the building of the sukkah.

As for the second question: Note, please, this is not a question on Shabbos, this is a question on every שהחיינו we make on mitzvos and Yom Tov kiddush.  The statement that מצוות לאו ליהנות ניתנו is not a statement about the feelings evoked from doing Torah and Mitzvos, but on the intent of them being given to us.  Doing Torah and Mitzvos is automatically the most fun thing you can possibly do!  So much so that we are severely restricted in their performance during shiva and on Tisha b'Av.  Even if you don't consciously feel the joy and fun, your soul is have a grand time!  On the other hand, during times when you are otherwise not allowed to have excess fun -- during the first year after losing a parent, for example -- you are allowed to participate in fun things if they are a mitzvah.  An aveil is allowed to attend a siyum, for example, even though there will be lots of people and food.  Moreover, even if a person takes an oath to receive no benefit from a certain person, he would still be able to hear shofar and megillah from him... because מצוות לאו ליהנות ניתנו.

Any questions?  Please?


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…

Thought for the Day: Hydroponically Grown Humans... I Feel Sick

I am quite openly not at all objective about abortion in particular and the treatment of human embryos and fetuses in general.  I am, after all, the survivor of a failed abortion attempt.  Not "thought about it, but couldn't go through with it"; not "made appointment, but then chickened out at the lost moment"; but, "tried a procedure, but was unsuccessful in attempt to abort".  Nonetheless, I try very hard to listen to the liberal arguments (which I also used to chant as part of the general liberal catechism), and am genuinely empathetic to the plight of women who find themselves in that difficult position.

What I heard on NPR this morning, however, has left me feeling physically ill.  You can read about it, if you like, but here's the bottom line:  Scientists in Cambridge have achieved a new record, they fertilized a human ova and then kept it alive in vitro (that is, in a test tube/petri dish in a laboratory) for 14 days.  The scientist involve…