What is the history of the blessing?
The blessing originates from a shorter phrase, “Barukh she’higiyanu la’zman ha’zeh,” a phrase of gratitude that means “Thank you for allowing us to reach this moment.” When the formula for blessings was standardized after the destruction of the Second Temple, the four-word phrase was expanded to the current 12-word blessing.
The Shehechiyanu is first mentioned in the Mishnah as a blessing over obtaining a new home or new vessels, and is mentioned in the Talmud in several places such as Pesachim 7b; Sukkah 46a; and Berakhot 37b, 44a, and 59.
When do people recite it today?
Usually recited in addition to a regular blessing, the Shehechiyanu is said whenever we do something for the first time that year. For example, it can be recited upon eating a seasonal fruit, or performing certain mitzvot, such as hearing the shofar, lighting Hannukkah candles or shaking a lulav and etrog. It is also recited at the start of almost every holiday, immersing in the mikveh as part of the conversion process and at a pidyon haben.
Additionally, the Shehechiyanu can be recited for non-mitzvot occasions, such as seeing an old friend, acquiring a new home, household items, or clothing. Some people choose to use the blessing for other special occasions in their lives.
How to say it
Pronounced: MICK-vuh, or mick-VAH, Alternate Spelling: mikvah, Origin: Hebrew, Jewish ritual bath.
Pronounced: MITZ-vuh or meetz-VAH, Origin: Hebrew, commandment, also used to mean good deed.