by R. Ari Enkin
The Shulchan Aruch rules that one is to recite the shehecheyanu blessing when eating a fruit that is newly in season. OC 225:3; Mishna Berura 225:11; Aruch Hashulchan, OC 225:1. This is because eating a fruit for the first time after a long interval is said to bring a person a certain level of joy. Mishna Berura 225:10. Eating a fruit for which one is able to recite the shehecheyanu blessing is also an opportunity to express our thanks and appreciation to God for the produce that He provides to us. Ibid., 225:19. See also Ben Ish Chai, Re’eh 1:16; Aruch Hashulchan, OC 225:5.
A “seasonal fruit” for this purpose is a fruit that appears, or is otherwise only available, once Kaf Hachaim, OC 225:42 or twice a year. OC 225:6 One should not recite shehecheyanu on fruit that is available all year long, no matter how exotic it might be. Aruch Hashulchan, OC 225:12. It is preferable that the fruit upon which one recites shehecheyanu is completely new in one’s locale rather than a fruit that has been available for quite some time, but one simply did not get around to acquiring it. Mishna Berura 225:6. One who travels from a place where a new fruit had recently become available to a place where the same fruit becomes available shortly thereafter may recite the shehecheyanu blessing upon it again, if at least a month has passed since one last ate that fruit. Teshuvot V’hanhagot 2:151.
Some have the custom to recite shehecheyanu before reciting the blessing on the fruit, Aruch Hashulchan, OC 225:5; Chayei Adam 62:8; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 59:14; Mishna Berura 225:11. while most others first recite the blessing upon the fruit and then the shehecheyanu. Be’er Heitev 225:6; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 59:14; Mishna Berura 225:11; Aruch Hashulchan, OC 225:5; Kaf Hachaim, OC 225:24; Yosef Ometz 56; Az Nidberu 3:51:2; Yechave Da’at 3:15. One who forgot to recite shehecheyanu before eating the fruit may still recite it as long as one is still in the midst of eating it. Ketzot Hashulchan 63:9. It is a matter of dispute whether shehecheyanu should be recited on fruits of the melon family. Halichot Shlomo, Tefilla 23:20; Biur Halacha 225, s.v. “Peri.”
One should only recite shehecheyanu on a fruit when eating the fruit in the manner it is normally eaten. For example, one should not recite shehecheyanu on a raw fruit if it is a type of fruit that is normally eaten cooked. Birkei Yosef, OC 225:4. But see Ketzot Hashulchan 63:6. So too, shehecheyanu is recited only when eating the actual fruit, and not when eating only the seeds Yosef Ometz 24. But see Ketzot Hashulchan 63:4. or juice Shraga Hameir 6:25. of such a fruit.
Nevertheless, there are those who do not recite shehecheyanu on new fruits. It is argued that eating a new fruit nowadays does not arouse sufficient joy to warrant reciting the shehecheyanu blessing as it may have in ancient times when fruits were scarce and hard to come by. In fact, one of the reasons that shehecheyanu is not recited upon vegetables is because vegetables simply don’t bring a person joy. Rema, OC 225:6; Chayei Adam 62:8. This may indeed be the case with fruits today, as well. Or Yitzchak 61.
Furthermore, there is a dispute as to when shehecheyanu in honor of a new fruit should be recited in the first place. While common custom is to recite shehecheyanu when eating the fruit for the first time, many authorities rule that shehecheyanu should be recited upon seeing the fruit for the first time. According to this approach, one who has seen a new fruit on a tree or in a store, and did not recite shehecheyanu at that time, has lost the opportunity to do so when eating it at a later time. For this reason, reciting shehecheyanu when eating the fruit is essentially somewhat of a safek (doubt), as to whether it may even be recited at all. There are also those who maintain that since, nowadays, one can acquire virtually any fruit at any time of the year, there is no true “newness” to fruits anymore. See Nitei Gavriel, Tu B’Shevat, p. 187, n. 12; Piskei Teshuvot 225, n. 66; and Minhag Yisrael Torah 225:3 for these and other sources.
Although most people do recite shehecheyanu upon eating a new fruit for the first time in the season, the argument not to do so is certainly compelling. Furthermore, the shehecheyanu blessing in general, and upon fruit in particular, is generally considered to be a voluntary blessing in nature, and not an outright obligation in the first place. Rema, OC 223:1; Mishna Berura 225:9; Yabia Omer 4:19:2, 5:19:2. There is also the concern that one who experiences no true joy from eating a new fruit, and recites shehecheyanu simply because most people do so, may have recited a beracha levatala (a blessing in vain). Mishne Sachir 1:18; Mishne Halachot 6:43. But see Aruch Hashulchan, OC 225:1.
|↑1||OC 225:3; Mishna Berura 225:11; Aruch Hashulchan, OC 225:1.|
|↑2||Mishna Berura 225:10.|
|↑3||Ibid., 225:19. See also Ben Ish Chai, Re’eh 1:16; Aruch Hashulchan, OC 225:5.|
|↑4||Kaf Hachaim, OC 225:42|
|↑6||Aruch Hashulchan, OC 225:12.|
|↑7||Mishna Berura 225:6.|
|↑8||Teshuvot V’hanhagot 2:151.|
|↑9||Aruch Hashulchan, OC 225:5; Chayei Adam 62:8; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 59:14; Mishna Berura 225:11.|
|↑10||Be’er Heitev 225:6; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 59:14; Mishna Berura 225:11; Aruch Hashulchan, OC 225:5; Kaf Hachaim, OC 225:24; Yosef Ometz 56; Az Nidberu 3:51:2; Yechave Da’at 3:15.|
|↑11||Ketzot Hashulchan 63:9.|
|↑12||Halichot Shlomo, Tefilla 23:20; Biur Halacha 225, s.v. “Peri.”|
|↑13||Birkei Yosef, OC 225:4. But see Ketzot Hashulchan 63:6.|
|↑14||Yosef Ometz 24. But see Ketzot Hashulchan 63:4.|
|↑15||Shraga Hameir 6:25.|
|↑16||Rema, OC 225:6; Chayei Adam 62:8.|
|↑17||Or Yitzchak 61.|
|↑18||See Nitei Gavriel, Tu B’Shevat, p. 187, n. 12; Piskei Teshuvot 225, n. 66; and Minhag Yisrael Torah 225:3 for these and other sources.|
|↑19||Rema, OC 223:1; Mishna Berura 225:9; Yabia Omer 4:19:2, 5:19:2.|
|↑20||Mishne Sachir 1:18; Mishne Halachot 6:43. But see Aruch Hashulchan, OC 225:1.|