What is the Shehechiyanu?
The Shehechiyanu blessing gives thanks to God for enabling us to experience a new or special occasion. The blessing consists of one line:
Barukh ata adonai elohenu melekh ha’olam, shehecheyanu, v’kiyimanu, v’higiyanu la’z’man ha’zeh
Blessed are You Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe who has given us life, sustained us, and allowed us to reach this day.
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.
Listen to the Shehechiyanu (courtesy of Mechon Hadar)
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.
Pronounced: LOO-lahv (oo as in boo), Origin: Hebrew, a bundle of branches representing three species — willow, myrtle and palm — which are shaken together with the etrog on Sukkot.
Pronounced: MICK-vuh, or mick-VAH, Alternate Spelling: mikvah, Origin: Hebrew, Jewish ritual bath.
Pronounced: sheh-hekh-ee-YAH-new, Origin: Hebrew, a blessing said upon experiencing a new or special occasion.