Shehecheyanu: A Timely Blessing

Kashrus Kurrents, Fall 2022

Shehecheyanu is part of many occasions and rituals. In the parlance of the Gemara, it is often referred to as zman, the blessing of time. This bracha expresses appreciation for special occasions in our lives – things that only happen from time to time.

It is especially interesting that the minhagim of when Shehecheyanu is said are often not in line with the strictest letter of the law. This article will explore some of the common – and uncommon – halachos and minhagim of this bracha relevant to the Moadim.

Times of Holiness

Shehecheyanu is said at the onset of every Yom Tov to mark the increased holiness of the day.[1] Although it may be said ‘even in the marketplace’ once Yom Tov has arrived, the implication of the Gemara in several places is that the ideal time to say Shehecheyanu is during Kiddushand, indeed, it is included in the standard text of Kiddush.[2] Nevertheless, the common custom is that women say it when they accept Yom Tov at candle lighting.[3]

Based on the above, it is clear that a woman who has said Shehecheyanu at candle lighting should not repeat Shehecheyanu if she says Kiddush. Ifshe is being motzi others in Kiddush who have not yet said Shehecheyanu, she should delay saying Shehecheyanu until Kiddush, or they should say it themselves.In any case, a woman who has already said Shehecheyanu at candle lighting may still answer amein to the Shehecheyanu said during Kiddush, even though she is no longer obligated in this bracha. Since the person saying Kiddush is obligated in it, it is not considered a hefseik for her to answer his bracha.[4]

A man who is lighting Yom Tov candles should not say Shehecheyanu at candle lighting, since he will say it as part of Kiddush. Some suggest that he recite Kiddush immediately in order that Shehecheyanu apply to the candle lighting as well.[5] Should one omit this bracha, it may be said anytime throughout the course of Yom Tov, including Chol Hamoed.[6]

Yom Kippur

On Yom Kippur, women who light candles say Shehecheyanu at candle lighting. Men, and women who do not light candles, say it following Kol Nidrei. In the absence of Kiddush, one accepts the kedusha of Yom Kippur with this bracha (if said before nightfall), and all the prohibitions of the day take effect. Therefore, a woman who is not accepting the fast at candle lighting should not say Shehecheyanu at that time.

The Second Night of Yom Tov and of Rosh Hashana

In chutz la’aretz, Shehecheyanu is recited during Kiddush on the second night of Yom Tov just as on the first night. This is based on the principle of sfeika d’yoma, that we treat the second night (and day) of Yom Tov as if it were the first in every way. However, on Rosh Hashana, it is a matter of dispute whether the second day is a repetition of the first day due to sfeika d’yoma, or an extension of the first day (yoma arichta), in which case Shehecheyanu would not be repeated. Therefore, one should set a new fruit on the table or wear a new garment in deference to the opinion that Shehecheyanu is not necessary on the second night. However, even if these items are not available, one should still recite Shehecheyanu on the second night.[7]

Timely Mitzvos

In addition to the holiness of the Yamim Tovim, we recite Shehecheyanu on mitzvos that are only done from time to time, such as shofar and lulav. When possible, these brachos are incorporated into a single bracha, often with Shehecheyanu of Kiddush.


As with Kiddush, it is questionable if Shehecheyanu should be said before blowing the shofar on the second day of Rosh Hashana. Ashkenazim do say it on both days, while Sephardim do not say it on the second day. In deference to the opinions that it should not be said, it is preferable for the baal tokeah to wear a new garment when reciting Shehecheyanu on the second day.[8]


Building the sukkah is itself a mitzvah, and technically Shehecheyanu can be said from when construction is completed.[9] However, we delay this Shehecheyanu until the first night of Sukkos, to include it in the Shehecheyanu said at Kiddush.[10] Thus, the Shehecheyanu on the first night of Sukkos incorporates two separate points: the zman of the Yom Tov and the sukkah itself.[11]

For that reason, the order of Kiddush changes from the first night of Sukkos to the second. On the first night, Shehecheyanu includes the sukkah and should be said after leisheiv basukkah.On thesecond night, it does not include the sukkah and is only said as part of Kiddush. Thus, it is said immediately after Kiddush, before leisheiv basukkah.[12]

Since this Shehecheyanu covers both the zman and the sukkah, if Kiddush must be said outside of the sukkah, Shehecheyanu should be said as part of Kiddush, on the zman, and again when one first eats in the sukkah.[13] If one is unable to eat in the sukkah the entire first day of Sukkos, then Shehecheyanu should be said after leisheiv basukkah during Kiddush of the second night, as is usually done on the first night.[14]


As Rabbinically ordained holidays, Chanukah and Purim do not have the same intrinsic holiness as the other Yamim Tovim. As such, Shehecheyanu is primarily recited on the mitzvos of the day and not on the day itself, although one should have the day in mind as well, since it is a time of miracles.[15] Therefore, on Chanukah it is said on lighting and seeing the Chanukah candles. If Shehecheyanu is omitted at the first candle lighting, it should only be recited at the time of the next candle lighting, and not during the course of the day.[16]


On Purim, Shehecheyanu is recited primarily on the mitzva ofreading the Megillah, although one should have the mitzvos of seudas Purim in mind as well.[17] Here again, customs differ. Sephardim say Shehecheyanu once, at the reading of the Megillah at night, and have in mind to include the daytime reading and the other mitzvos of the day, whereas Ashkenazim repeat it at the daytime Megillah reading, and only then have in mind the other mitzvos of the day.[18]

The Mitzvos of Pesach

      The night of the Seder is rife with mitzvos. The Rambam counts eight that are relevant nowadays, and the Vilna Gaon is reported to have said that there are sixty-four different mitzvos at the seder. Primary among them are the arbah kosos,eating matzah and maror, andthe recitation of the Haggadah. These mitzvos are done once a year and should require a Shehecheyanu. Practically, Shehecheyanu is said only once, as part of Kiddush at the beginning of the Seder. The Abudraham[19] suggests that this Shehecheyanu includes the other mitzvos of the night as well.[20]

In other cases where one Shehecheyanu includes several mitzvos, the Mishnah Berurah makes a point of mentioning that one should have all the mitzvos in mind when saying the bracha.[21] Regarding this, he is strangely silent. It seems that the Seder is considered one unit, and all its component mitzvos are automatically included in the initial Shehecheyanu, so there is no need to have specific intent for each mitzvah.

All the Good Times

The Levush notes that there are seventeen mandated recitations of Shehecheyanu throughout the year, corresponding to the gematria of ‘tov’. A siman for this is: “Ki lekach ‘tov’ nasati lachem, for I have given you a good acquisition.”[22] This siman highlights the essence of Shehecheyanu: Hashem has given us so many days and ways to connect with Him. On each Moed, with each special mitzvah, we say Shehecheyanu to thank Hashem that we have merited to draw closer to Him at this time.

[1] Except for Acharon Shel Pesach, which is not a separate Yom Tov in its own right.

[2] See Eruvin 40b, Pesachim 102b, Succah 47b.

[3] There seems to be no early source for this minhag. See Mishnah Berurah 263:25 and Shaarei Teshuva ad loc., 5 (quoting Sheilas Yaavetz), who conclude that one “need not protest” against women who say Shehecheyanu while lighting candles. On a related note, even lighting Yom Tov candles is not mentioned in the Gemara, Rif and Rambam. It is first mentioned by the early Ashkenazi poskim, quoting a Yerushalmi that is no longer extant. In fact, the Teimani custom is to light Yom Tov candles without a bracha.

[4] Some contemporary poskim (Har Tzvi O.C. 1:154, Yechave Daat 3:34, Shevet Levi 3:69, Shmiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 44, 4) suggest that answering amein to Shehecheyanu is indeed an interruption and should be avoided. However, Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe O.C. 4:21.9) and Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Shmiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 47 note 215) both point out that this concern was not mentioned by any of the earlier authorities, and the custom is to answer amein. See also Halichos Shlomo, Moadim (Chapter 9, note 37), who points out that on Sukkos (and Pesach), the Shehecheyanu at Kiddush includes the mitzvos of the night as well, which are not yet relevant during candle lighting.

[5] Mateh Efraim 599:9.

[6] Regarding Shavuos, Chok Yaakov (473:1) writes that Shehecheyanu can be recited for the seven days after Yom Tov, since the korban chagigah, which is brought on every Yom Tov, can be brought for seven days after Shavuos. (For this reason, many shuls have the custom not to recite Tachanun for the week after Shavuos.) His is a lone voice among the poskim, and one should not say Shehecheyanu past the end of Shavuos.

[7] O.C. 600, 2, M.B. ad loc., 2and 5.

[8] O.C. 600, 3 M.B. 7.

[9] This is similar to one who purchases a new object; Shehecheyanu is not said until the item is ready for use (Rav Moshe Heinemann).

[10] O.C. 641 and 643, 1.

[11] However, Shehecheyanu is not said on the mitzvah of sitting in the sukkah. Thus, if one first says Shehecheyanu in someone else’s sukkah, and then enters his own, or if one builds a sukkah on Chol Hamoed, he will need to say Shehecheyanu again (Rav Moshe Heinemann). For a survey of the relevant literature and many contemporary opinions, see Sukkas Chaim, Sukkos vol. 1, pp. 501-506.

[12] O.C. 661. Even though the rule of sfeika d’yoma would dictate that the second night be an exact repeat of the first, since one can say Shehecheyanu on the mitzvah of sukkah even before Sukkos, the obligation to say it is fully discharged on the first night (M.B. 661:1). A similar reasoning applies to lulav as well. Since Shehecheyanu may be said on the lulav from when the arba minim are assembled even before Yom Tov (since, as with Sukkah, the bracha is not on the mitzvah but on the lulav itself), sfeika d’yoma does not require repeating it on the second day (M.B. 662:2).

[13] Rema O.C. 641.

[14] Mishnah Berurah 661:1. Other authorities hold that Shehecheyanu should follow leisheiv basukkah in all circumstances (M.B. 661:2).

[15] Mishnah Berurah 692:1. See Rabbi Dovid Heber’s Shaarei Zmanim (Chapter 17) for a discussion of the opinions that Shehecheyanu is on the day itself, even on Chanukah and Purim.

[16] O.C. 676:1 and M.B. 2. See Shaar Hatziyun 676:3 regarding whether one who omits Shehecheyanu for all eight nights of Chanukah may say it during the course of the day.

[17] M.B. 692:1. See Pri Megadim (ad loc., A.A. 1), Chayei Adam (155:27) and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (141:12) that one should also have matanos l’evyonim in mind.

[18] O.C. 692:1. See Biur Halacha s.v. V‘Shehecheyanu regarding a person who does not have a Megillah. On Rosh Hashana and Sukkos, the daytime mitzvos are not included in the nighttime Shehecheyanu since it is not yet the appropriate time to perform those mitzvos.It is therefore unclear to this author how Shehecheyanu at night can include the daytime mitzvos of Purim according to the Sephardic custom.

[19] Sec. 3, Birkas Hamitzvos

[20] The poskim discuss whether biur chametz warrants a Shehecheyanu. While a full treatment of the topic is beyond the scope of this article, it is noteworthy that the Rosh (Pesachim 1:10, quoted in Tur O.C. 432) and the Rashba (Teshuvos 1:223) both write that this, too, is included in the Shehecheyanu said at the Seder.

[21] See the discussion above regarding Sukkah and Purim.

[22] Minhagim 16 (printed at the end of Levush Hachur on O.C).