The Shehecheyanu blessing (Hebrew: שהחינו, "Who has given us life") is a common Jewish prayer said to celebrate special occasions. It is said to be thankful for new and unusual experiences. The blessing is recorded in the Talmud (Berachot 54a, Pesakhim 7b, Sukkah 46a, etc.), indicating that it has been recited for over 2000 years.
The blessing of Shehecheyanu is recited in thanks or commemoration of:
- Generally, when doing or experiencing something that occurs infrequently from which one derives pleasure or benefit.
- The beginning of a holiday, including Passover, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simhat Torah and Hanukkah, but not holidays commemorating sad events, such as Tisha B'av.
- The first performance of certain mitzvot in a year, including sitting in a sukkah, eating matzah at the Passover Seder, reading the megillah, or lighting the candles on Hanukkah
- Eating a new fruit for the first time since Rosh Hashanah
- Seeing a friend who has not been seen in thirty days
- Acquiring a new home, or significant new articles of clothing or utensils, such as a new suit
- The birth of a child (but not at the circumcision)
- A pidyon haben ceremony
- During a ritual immersion in a mikveh as part of a conversion
Some have the custom of saying it at the ceremony of the Birkat Hachama, which is recited once every 28 years in the month of Nisan/Adar II.
When several reasons apply (such as the beginning of Passover, together with the mitzvot of matzah, marror, etc.), the blessing is only said once.
It is not recited at a circumcision, since that involves pain, nor at the Counting of the Omer, since that is a task which does not give pleasure (and causes sadness at the thought that the actual omer ceremony cannot be performed because of the destruction of the Temple).
Some traditions dictate saying "lizman" rather than "lazman" ("to [this] season"); this follows the ruling of the Mishnah Berurah and Aruch Hashulchan, following Magen Avraham, and is followed by Chabad, but this seems to be a minority usage and is contrary to usual Hebrew usage.
The Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel was publicly read in Tel Aviv on May 14, 1948, before the expiration of the British Mandate at midnight. After the first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, read the Declaration of Independence, Rabbi Fishman recited the Shehecheyanu blessing, and the Declaration of Independence was signed. The ceremony concluded with the singing of "Hatikvah."
Avshalom Haviv finished his speech in court on June 10, 1947, with the Shehecheyanu blessing.