Reciting Shehechiyanu On New Purchases

1) The recital of the blessing Shehechiyanu (Blessed are You…Who has kept us alive, sustained us and brought us to this season) was enacted for the festivals and other seasonal events, but it was also instituted for occasions when one feels a personal sense of joy. Therefore, one says Shehechiyanu when making significant purchases that gladden his heart. As the Mishnah in Brachos (9:1) rules, “If one built a new house or purchased new clothes, he says the blessing of Shehechiyanu”.

2) Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Igros Moshe O.C. 3:80) writes that one should recite the bracha after purchasing a car. [If the car will be used by his wife and family then the proper bracha is Hatov Vihameitiv] However, the Kaf Hachaim (223:20) cites the custom not to make a bracha on any new object one purchases, which would include cars.

3) Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach zt”l (Halichos Shlomo vol. 1 page 183) testifies that the custom is to say Shehechiyanu after purchasing elegant clothing. Accordingly, if one buys a new hat one can recite the blessing as long as the hat brings him joy. He adds that no bracha is said on a pair of shoes even if they are expansive.

4) The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 22) rules that the bracha of Shehechiyanu is recited on a new talis gadol. Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Igros Moshe O.C. 3:80) adds that no bracha is said on a pair of tzitzis (talis katan), as they do not bring the (average) purchaser joy. He explains that the fact that the purchaser gets enjoyment from fulfilling the mitzvah is irrelevant in our discussion. [He adds that it the tzitzis bring immense joy to the purchases, then the bracha should be said.] Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l (Halichos Shlomo chapter 3 note 47) also writes that one does not recite a bracha on a talis katan or shoes since they do not bring joy.

5) The poskim explains that one should recite the blessing immediately after donning the clothing for the first time. The Baal Hatania (Birchas Hanehnin 12:4) writes that if one forgot to do so, one can continue to recite the blessing at any point during his initial wearing of the clothing. Once he takes them off he cannot recite the blessing with G-d’s name (when wearing them for the second time). The bracha should then be said without the name of Hashem. Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l (Halichos Shlomo page 283) however, rules that one may recite the bracha even during the second time he wears it as long as it still brings him joy.

6) The Kaf Hachaim (223:30) notes that putting on the suit by the tailor (to see if it is fitted correctly) does not constitute wearing regarding the bracha of Shehechiyanu. One can still recite the bracha the next time he wears the suit.  

7) The poskim discuss whether one should recite a shehechiyanu when performing a mitzvah for the first time (such as a Bar Mitzvah boy with Tefillin or a kallah lighting candles for the first time):

A- The Rokeach (Siman 371) writes that anytime one is performing a mitzvah for the first time one should recite shehechiyanu. The Rama (Y.D. 28:2) and Toras Yekutial (60) rule in accordance with the Rokeach.

B- However, there are many poskim that disagree and rule that one should not recite the shehechiyanu when performing a mitzvah for the first time. This is the view of the Shulchan Aruch 23, Shach (Y.D. 28:5), Pri Chadash, Chida (Shiurei Brach Y.D. 200) and Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (Yechava Daas 2:31).

C-  The Pri Toar (cited by Chasam Sofer O.C. 55) feels that one should not recite a bracha after performing every mitzvah for the first time like the Rokeach. Rather, only a bar mitzvah boy should recite the bracha. Why is this so? The answer is that when one becomes bar mitzvah and puts on Tefillin in addition to wearing Tefillin for the first time, he also is entering into a new stage in his life. He is now a full member of the Jewish people, able to help Am Yisroel perform mitzvos and become closer to Hashem. Entering that stage of one’s life brings enough joy to recite shehechiyanu. Similarly, a married women recites a bracha when lighting candles for the first time since she is entering in to a new stage of her life (that of a married woman).

The Mishnah Berurah (Biur Halacha 22) advises that when performing a mitzvah for the first time, one should preferably create a situation where a shehechiyanu needs to be made for another reason, such as for a new fruit or new clothing.

8) Houses- The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 223:3) writes that one recites the blessing of Shehechiyanu after purchasing a house. Although the Mishnah in Brachos (9:1) required the blessing on a new home, he explains that “new” in this context means it is new to him; however, the house may have been used by others before him.

9) The Biur Halacha cites the Achronim who write that the proper bracha is contingent on the buyer of the house and its occupants. If a single person purchases a house for himself than one should recite Shehechiyanu. If, however, a husband or father buys a house for his family than the proper bracha is “Hatov Vihameitiv”. Which is the blessing reserved for purchases that will give joy to the purchaser and others. The Chayei Adam disagrees and rules that regarding houses one should not recite Hatov Vihameitiv, rather, one should always recite Shehechiyanu.

10) The Tzitz Eliezer (12:19) writes that the blessing should be said on the purchase of a home even if one used loans or mortgages to help cover the cost on the house. The fact that this purchase also caused him much responsibility and stress (for the future) does not diminish the sense of joy one feels upon becoming a homeowner. This is in contention with the ruling of Rav Chaim Palag’i zt”l who explains that this bracha is recited upon purchases that brings happiness. He contends that no bracha can be said when the house is bought with loans (or mortgages) for a purchase like this brings more responsibility and stress than it does joy. And at the time when he finally pays off his final mortgage, the feeling of joy is gone, rendering him unable to recite the bracha. The Tzitz Eliezer concedes that there is responsibility and anxiety with this purchase. He argues that since there is also the overwhelming feeling of joy one should indeed recite the blessing of Shehechiyanu. Rav Moshe Stern zt”l (Beer Moshe 5:68) agrees with Rav Chaim Palag’i and with this explains the custom of some not to make a blessing upon the purchase of a house. A similar custom is found in the Sefer Ben Ish Chai in Parshas Re’ah (6). The Ben Ish Chai testifies that in his area the custom was to refrain from saying Shehechiyanu when buying a house. One would instead make a festive meal, a “chanukas habayis”, as a forum to thank Hashem. He continues to observe that some wore new clothing or ate new fruit, which require a Shehechiyanu in their own right. When reciting the blessing over the clothing or fruit they would have their house in mind.  

11) Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l (Halichos Shlomo 23:13) is quoted as saying that the bracha should be recited right after the Mezuzos are fitted to the doorposts as it is only then that the house is considered livable. [A similar ruling was already advanced by Rabbi Akiva Eiger zt”l cited in Shaar Hatzion 223:21]. If one forgot to make the bracha at the proper time, one may do so afterwards, so long as the house still brings him a lot of joy and happiness.

12) Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l (Halichos Shlomo 23:13) is quoted as ruling that no blessing should be said upon renting a house. If after years of renting, one purchases said house, then Shehechiyanu should be said.

13)  The Mishnah Berurah writes that if one’s home was destroyed in a fire and was consequently rebuilt, one would be required to recite a bracha. He continues that adding an extension to one’s property also warrants a blessing.  A bracha is recited even if one does not actually add to the size of the property, rather, converts his backyard into a den or kitchen. There is a disagreement amongst the poskim as to whether a bracha is appropriate when one merely altered the dimensions of the house (ex. removing a wall thereby converting two rooms into one large room); See Sefer Halichos Shlomo 23:13 and Sefer Bitzail Hachochma 4:49.

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