Shehecheyanu & New Fruits

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By: Rabbi Ari Enkin

According to routine halacha one is to recite the “shehecheyanu” blessing when eating a fruit that is newly in season.[1] This is because eating a fruit for the first time in a long time is said to bring a person a certain level of joy.[2] A seasonal fruit for this purpose is a fruit which appears or is available only once[3] or twice a year.[4] One should not recite the shehecheyanu blessing on fruits which are available all year round no matter how exotic they may be.[5] Some have the custom of reciting shehecheyanu before reciting the actual blessing on the fruit itself[6] while others reverse this order.[7]

Nevertheless, there are those who do not recite shehecheyanu on new fruits at all today. This is because it is argued that eating new fruits does not bring a person sufficient joy to warrant reciting shehecheyanu.  In fact, one of the reasons that shehecheyanu is not recited upon vegetables, although it probably should be, is because vegetables simply don’t bring a person joy.[8] This may indeed be the case with fruits today.

It is also noted that there is a dispute as to when a shehecheyanu in honor of a new fruit should be recited in the first place. While common custom is to recite the shehecheyanu on fruit when eating the fruit for the first time, there are eminent authorities who rule that the shehecheyanu must be recited upon seeing the fruit for the first time. According to this approach, once one has seen the fruit on the tree or in the store and did not recite the shehecheyanu at that time, one has forfeited the opportunity to do so. As such, reciting the shehecheyanu when eating the fruit is essentially a safek, a doubt, as to whether it may be recited at all. There also those who maintain that since today one can acquire virtually any fruit at any time of the year, there is no true “newness” to fruits anymore.[9] 

Although most people continue to recite shehecheyanu when eating a new fruit, the argument not to do so is certainly compelling. In fact, the shehecheyanu blessing, especially upon fruit, is generally voluntary in nature and not an outright obligation in the first place.[10] There is also the concern that one who genuinely has no joy from eating a new fruit and recites shehecheyanu simply because “it is the thing to do” may have recited a bracha levatala, a blessing in vain.[11]

 Happy Tu B’shvat!!!


[1] Aruch Hashulchan, OC 225:1.

[2] Mishna Berura 225:10

[3] Kaf Hachaim, OC 225:42

[4] OC 225:6

[5] Aruch Hashulchan, OC 225:12.

[6] Aruch Hashulchan, OC 225:5.

[7] Be’er Heitev, OC 225:6

[8] Chayei Adam 62:8

[9] See Nitei Gavriel, Tu B’shavt p.187 footnote 12, Piskei Teshuvot 225 footnote 66, and Minhag Yisrael Torah 225:3 for these and other sources.

[10] Mishna Berura 225:9; Yabia Omer 4:19:2, 5:19:2..

[11] Mishne Sachir 18.

About Ari Enkin

Rabbi Ari N. Enkin, a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh, is a researcher and writer of contemporary halachic issues. He is the author of the “Dalet Amot of Halacha” series (8 volumes), Rabbinic Director of United with Israel and a RA"M at a number of yeshivot. www.rabbienkin.com

18 comments

  1. I think this brocho is for the same reason not recited on new clothes either. Perhaps a new tallis. Even on second day rosh hashono its not clear why everyone has to have a new fruit and not just the person making kiddush. What would you suggest is something that everyone makes this brocho today for.
    I was once by a sefardi rabbi’s table on friday night and he brought in ‘better’ wine to make the brocho of ‘hatov’ and of course offered me as well as it needs two people. But I wondered shouldn’t one use the best wine one possesses for kiddush.

  2. “Nevertheless, there are those who do not recite shehecheyanu on new fruits at all today.” Who?

  3. On the other hand, there’s a somewhat new idea (or very old, depending how you look at it) of eating seasonally and trying to only buy fruits when they’re locally in season. In that case, would/could one say shehechiyanu in early summer, for example, when berries come back into season, if one does not eat them or buy them during the rest of the year?

  4. Skeptic-

    See footnotes 8 & 9.

    Ari Enkin

  5. Liz-

    This seems to be the halacha.

    Ari Enkin

  6. #8 doesn’t mention fruits. I don’t have access to #9 — can you list the most prominent posek who holds this view?

  7. In a similar vein, I once went to an aquarium, and asked a she’elah regarding whether I should say “Meshaneh ha-beriyos” on a walrus. (What did people do in these situations before [cell/pay]phones??)

    I was familiar with the animal from books, etc., but in person it was truly a remarkable and strange-looking beast! The answer (from a rather conservative, small-c, rav) was no: not als walrus, but als the fact that even odd animals are normal in our globalized world.

  8. R’Enkin- I must disagree with your sevarah for not bentsching shehecheyanu on new seasonal fruits. IMHO shehecheyanu is birkat haZMAN and birkat HECHAYIM. When I recently said shehecheyanu on the first shesek (loquat) of the season it wasn’t because of my great joy in eating shesek (they are not my favorite fruit), but rather I am blessing Hashem for his chesed in granting me another year when shesek is once again in the shuk. You are correct in noting that the really proper time for the bracha is before you eat when you first see it and are mitkaven to eat it. The fact that shehecheyanu is not birkat ha nehenin goes to prove that it is almost irrelevant if you feel any joy in eating the fruit,the blessing on hana’ah is “borei pri ha etz”
    The seasonal aspect of the bracha is stronger of course in Eretz Yisrael. I can say that as someone who spent many years tending fruit orchards in Eretz Yisrael I never really understood the deeper meaning of blessing Hashem “who has kept us alive,sustained us and brought us to this season” until I picked the first fruit of the season. As it is said in the Gemarra “ein ketz meguleh mizeh”
    Happy tu-b’shvat to all and may we all together next tu-b’shvat begeulah haacharonah veshleima.

  9. MiMedinat HaYam

    david t:

    you bring up an intersting anomaly in timing of “shehechetabnu”.

    the mechaber says we dont buy new clothing during the three weeks / nine days / whatever period the mechaber holds of, because of the obligation to say shehecheyanu when buying a garment.

    we ashkenazim say the bracha is when we wear the garment.

    and you are implying to say the bracha when growing (buying) a fruit.

    2. i happened to have eaten an aplle today, then realized i havent eaten an apple in well over a year (dont ask), though i’m sure i’ve eaten processed apple in say, aplle pie, etc. do i make a shecheyanu? processed apple surely doesnt count as a distinct happy occassion (assuming it does at any time.)

    3. this is just one of many halachot where we apply talmudic societal / other norms to life today.

  10. MMHY- There are many poskim who say that we do not make shehech
    eyanu on fruit such as apples which thanks to modern storage techniques
    are readily available all year round. They are no longer seasonal.
    The difference between garments and fruit is that people buy new garments in honor of joyus occasions therefore during sefira and ben-hameitzarim we dont want to say “Thank you Hashem for briging us once again to this season of mourning”.The GRA paskens that one can say shehecheyanu on fruit since even a person who is aveil on his mother and father is allowed to eat new fruit, the same during the seasons of national mourning.

  11. As such, reciting the shehecheyanu when eating the fruit is essentially a safek, a doubt, as to whether it may be recited at all.

    R Enkin

    Regarding this safek you speak of regarding making the brocha while eating or seeing the fruit, the Shulchan Aruch rules to make the brocha upon eating it. Don’t we look at that the Shulchan Aruch as a definitive source and therefore, should not call that matter a safek???

  12. Ari-

    The Suhlchan aruch pasken’s that as the minhag, not as the halacha. In fact, between the mechaber and rema there (OC 225) you see a solid case for the position that the bracha should be made when seeing the fruit.

    Yes, you are right, common custom is to make the bracha when eating the fruit, but the weight of this minhagic rulings are not pashut at all.

    Ari Enkin

  13. R Enkin,

    I’m wondering in general

    How does it work when the Shulchan Aruch says “our minhag is…” What was his intent (eg. was it only meant for people that don’t have a clear minhag), and how does it affect our practice of halacha?

  14. That is a very good question. In fact, the fat that we wear Rashi tefillin is also “the minhag” — the shulchan aruch actually doesnt pasken whether rashi or rabbeinu tam is right!!

    There is a sefer I have somewhere (and I mean SOMEWHERE?!!) “Klalei Piskei Hashulchan Aruch”. I would guess it would discuss something like this in that sefer.

    Ari Enkin

  15. Yi’yasher kochakhah R. Enkin. The Rav will be happy to know that his refreshing Tu Bishvat discussion has now merged with the medicolegal definition of life discussion (on the other forum). This is because, in his 1988 symposium with RMDT, RHS states that even though the Rambam in Hilkhot Avel 5:1 begins “Minhag Yisra’el bametim uvakevurah kakh hu”, it’s not just a matter of minhag, it’s a matter of din. RHS’s language is (-and one can discern from the audio recording that RHS was slightly laughing as he said this): “Some of the dinim in that chapter of Rambam are not just minhagim. Some of the dinim are dinim!”
    http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/711848/Rabbi_Moshe_D._Tendler/Definition_of_Death_II

    I suppose an association between Tu Bishvat and the definition of human life is appropriate, for as R. Zevin concludes his Tu Bishvat chapter in Hamo’adim Bahalakhah, “ha’adam etz hasadeh”.

  16. Thanks! I’ll try to check that out.

    It appears that all roads, at least those on Torah Musings, lead to discussions on brain death.

  17. R Spira, another association between Tu B’Shevat and brain death – from a Prof. March Shapiro piece on SeforimBlog

    According to R. Joseph Ibn Caspi (Mishneh Kesef [Pressburg, 1905], vol. 1, p. 36)…the following incredible statement: “We and the vegetables, such as the cabbage and the horseradish, are brothers, with one father”! He ties this in with the command not to cut down a fruit tree (Deut. 20:19), which is followed by the words כי האדם עץ השדה. This is usually understood as a question: “for is the tree of the field man [that it should be besieged of thee?] Yet Caspi understands it as a statement, and adds the following, which together with what I have already quoted from him will make the Jewish eco-crowd very happy.
    כי האדם עץ השדה (דברים כ’ י”ט), כלומר שהאדם הוא עץ השדה שהוא מין אחד מסוג הצמח כאמרו כל הבשר חציר (ישעיה מ’ ו’) ואמרו רז”ל בני אדם כעשבי השדה (עירובין נד ע”א)

  18. MiMedinat HaYam

    to david;

    do we buy new garments to honor an occasion? (sometimes, but usually cause we need / want a garment and / or we see something that appeals to us in our modern store system.)

    and if we buy a garment to honor an occassion, perhaps the occassion merits a shehecheyanu, and bundling it with a garment leads to other halachic issues (and / or requires two brachot. do we make separate shehechayanu’s on two new fruits? oops! thats another question i didnt mean to introduce. one can argue either way, and i’m sure there are poskim both ways.) but my point remains — sephardim tend to make a bracha on buying (thus dont buy during three weeks, whateverthat means to them. ashkenazim buy, but dont wear, since their bracha is on wearng. either way, halacha says we make a bracha during three weeks on new fruit, if we are afraid it wont be avail / wont be fresh after the three weeks.)

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