Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: So What, Precisely, Does Obligate One in the Bracha of שהחיינו, Anyway?

As preparation, let's try a simple word association exercise.  The word is: anticipation.  If the first word that came to your mind was "ketchup", then the rest of this will go down a little easier.

Here's the easy part: שהחיינו is only made for things that occur from time to time; which is to say, not continuously.  For example שהחיינו wouldn't apply to buying laundry detergent or deodorant because they are always available and one buys them (and their ilk) whenever they are needed.  That brings us to the second requirement: it has to be something that gives you enjoyment; which is to say, not something that is just part of daily living.  For example, you wouldn't make a שהחיינו on wearing a new pair of socks for the first time; socks are socks, new or old, as long as they protect your feet form chaffing and/or getting cold.  (If you feel differently, don't make a שהחיינו, but please do get a life.)

That's why we always make a שהחיינו on a Yom Tov; it occurs only annually and it's funner than anything.  Most people would agree that buying a new suit fits the criteria: (1) suits are expensive, so you only buy them occasionally; (2) it feels geshmack to wear a new suit.  (I know one nebbich who actually can't tell the difference between a new and old suit, so I he buys a new suit only when he also gets a new hat as well.)  Then's there's the new fruit issue.  Whoo boy.

Here's some facts (you can double check them in Orach Chaim 225:3-6, and Mishna Brura there):
  1. You can make the שהחיינו on just seeing the fruit on the tree.  In fact, even if you see it several times without saying שהחיינו, you can still say it the next time you see the fruit.  You may, and it certainly is the accepted custom, wait until you eat the fruit before making the שהחיינו.  Once you eat it, though, you have to either make the שהחיינו the first time or you have lost the chance.
  2. If you make a שהחיינו on grapes (either seeing them or eating them), you would not later make a שהחיינו on the wine made from those grapes.
  3. Eating red and green grapes are two difference experiences, so you would be able to make a שהחיינו on each one -- even though they are both grapes.
(1) is actually the result of a compromise.  There is one opinion that you don't make the שהחיינו at the first opportunity, then you have lost that שהחיינו; according to them, you woundn't be permitted to make the שהחיינו even on the second sighting.  On the other side, there is an opinion that the שהחיינו on enjoying a new fruit is no different than Yom Tov or Chanuka lights; if you don't make the שהחיינו the first time, then you can still make the שהחיינו next time -- even for eating.

The compromise comes from a doubt about what the pleasure of seeing the new fruit really is.  Are you just excited to see a new creation of the Holy, Blessed Be He making its first appearance after some absence, or you are excited that you'll get to eat it soon?  If it's the first, then each subsequent sighting is no longer as fun as the first time, so you lose the שהחיינו.  If it's the second, though, then the anticipation (think ketchup) of soon being able to enjoy does not lessen with each sighting; in fact, it increases.  According to everyone, though, once you've eaten the fruit, your level of excitement drops precipitously.

Now, you're thinking... what about nowadays in the good ole US of A, where you can get any fruit you want any time you want for pretty cheap; do we make a שהחיינו or not?  Great question.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…