By: Rabbi Ari Enkin
According to routine halacha one is to recite the “shehecheyanu” blessing when eating a fruit that is newly in season. 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. A seasonal fruit for this purpose is a fruit which appears or is available only once or twice a year. One should not recite the shehecheyanu blessing on fruits which are available all year round no matter how exotic they may be. Some have the custom of reciting shehecheyanu before reciting the actual blessing on the fruit itself while others reverse this order.
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. 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.
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. 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.
Happy Tu B’shvat!!!
 Aruch Hashulchan, OC 225:1.
 Mishna Berura 225:10
 Kaf Hachaim, OC 225:42
 OC 225:6
 Aruch Hashulchan, OC 225:12.
 Aruch Hashulchan, OC 225:5.
 Be’er Heitev, OC 225:6
 Chayei Adam 62:8
 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.
 Mishna Berura 225:9; Yabia Omer 4:19:2, 5:19:2..
 Mishne Sachir 18.