SHEHECHEYANU - PART II
IV. FURTHER ANALYSIS OF RAMBAM
The commentaries onRambam provide us with further details that will aid our investigation of Rambam's view of Shehecheyanu. The Hagahot Maimoniyot in Hilchot Mila states that we do not say Shehecheyanu at a Brit Mila because of the pain that the child is undergoing (he also cites a Rabbeinu Simcha who disagrees with this). This point is significant in two directions. First, it means that we really should say Shehecheyanu at a Brit Mila, but there is a technical obstacle precluding us from doing so. Second, it offers an insight into the very nature of this blessing. It seems that the reason that we refrains from reciting it in such a case is because the happiness of the event cannot be total so long as someone, even if it is merely an eight-day old child, is in pain.
Rabbeinu Simcha, on the other hand, feels that Shehecheyanu is not said in this case, but his reasoning is that a Brit Mila is an occasion where there are partners - the father and the mother - involved in the simcha (see last week's Chabura concerning Shehecheyanu being said only by an individual). This is extremely interesting, since a mother has no obligation to circumcise her son. Thus, Rabbeinu Simcha seems to be saying that the happiness that leads one to say Shehecheyanu is not the joy that is inherent in the performance of a mitzva, but rather a more general joy that results naturally from achieving this milestone in life. Unlike the Hagahot Maimoniyot, he does not seem to require a complete overall atmosphere of happiness, but rather only that those who are involved in the mitzva attain such a level. The irony of his view is that since there are two people who attain the level needed for Shehecheyanu, it can no longer be said.
The Hagahot Maimoniyot notes thatRa'avyah circumcised his own son and said Shehecheyanu. However, he also notes the view of the Rokeiach, who held that no Shehecheyanu is said since a child who is less than thirty days old is still not considered to be viable in the eyes of halacha. Again, this would seem to be a view similar to that of the Hagahot Maimoniyot himself - the status of the child himself presents a flaw in the overall joy of the occasion.
Rambam had said in Hilchot Megilla that Shehecheyanu is said only when reading the Megilla at night, but not during the day. TheMagid Mishne explains that Rambam's view is based on his belief that the Shehecheyanu from the night can carry over into the day, and thus it is like Succah. However, he notes, there are those who hold that the main reading is during the day, and thus they repeat Shehecheyanu when they read in the morning. Hagahot Maimoniyot quotes Rabbeinu Tam, who holds that Shehecheyanu is recited during the day of Purim both because that is when the main mitzva to read is and because of the meal that will come later in the day. He also notes that Rambam himself would say it quietly during the day so as to cover himself with regard to the view of Rabbeinu Tam.
Several issues present themselves in these statements. First of all, what binds the reading of the night and the reading of the day together that would allow us to say Shehecheyanu only at night for both times? Seemingly, they are connected by the day itself. This gets us into the issue of the elasticity of the time in which Shehecheyanu can be said, an issue that we will revisit below. Also, according to the view that the main time for the mitzva is during the day, why should we say Shehecheyanu at night at all? Again, the time factor seems to play a large role here. It would appear that Shehecheyanu has to be said at night, because it is being said on the day as well as on the mitzva of reading the Megilla. However, if the real time for the mitzva is during the day, then it has to be repeated. This view would assume a strong split between the day itself and the mitzvot of the day, as it does not allow the Shehecheyanu of one to cover the other.
V. TIME, TIME, TIME
Building off of the last section, I would like to focus on when the Shehecheyanu is said in relation to the mitzva or event that it is being said on. With regard to buying new clothing, there is a debate if Shehecheyanu is said when one buys the clothes, or if he waits until he actually wears them. We saw the view of Rav Yochanan who claims that buying is a key factor, and thus one would say Shehecheyanu even if he already possesses the object that he buys. Perhaps we can expand his view to say that Shehecheyanu is said when one buys an article of clothing and not when one puts it on. While this view is adopted byRashba and Ra'avad, Ra'ah holds that one says Shehecheyanu only when he first uses the object.
Succah presents us with an even bigger issue. There are three possible times when one could say Shehecheyanu on the Succah - when he makes it, when he first enters it for the mitzva, and when he makes kiddush on the first night. Saying it when one builds the Succah is a distinctly object-oriented approach to the blessing, since it is being said before the holiday itself even begins (Ritva expands this time frame up to thirty days before the holiday, using bi'ur chametz for Pesach as a model). However, Tosafot claim that if one says Shehecheyanu when they build the Succah, they do not have to say it again when they enter the Succah on the holiday! Thus, one can make a blessing on the holiday without the holiday actually taking place! This view would seem to militate against the position that requires a second blessing on Megilla reading during the day. We noted that that view seems to sever the ties between the day and the mitzva. By contrast, Tosafot seem to favor an unusually strong connection between Succot and the Succah, to the extent that the building of the Succah serves as a quasi-beginning to the holiday itself.
Things get even more complicated if one holds off on saying Shehecheyanu until he says kiddush on the first night. Does this count as having said it on the mitzva of Succah as well, or only as having said it for the day? There is a split among Rishonim on this, with some saying that it counts for both, while the Hashlama and others intimate that he may still have to say Shehecheyanu on the Succah on the second day, since he only said it on the day, but not on the mitzva. Again, this implies a very weak link between the day and the mitzva that flows from it.
We can also look at the notion of saying Shehecheyanu upon building the Succah as supporting the idea of saying Shehecheyanu on a hechsher mitzva (actions done to facilitate the performance of a mitzva). This perspective is also very open to analysis. If we allow for Shehecheyanu to be said on a hechsher, would that preclude the need to say it again when doing the mitzva, or can we suggest that a hechsher gets its own Shehecheyanu, and the mitzva will then need another one? Further, is it possible that a Shehecheyanu said on a hechsher is strong enough to cover even the need to say it on the day itself? Would the view of Tosafot withstand this approach?Mordechai actually suggests that one should say Shehecheyanu when making candles for Chanukah, an action that is purely a hechsher. He rejects this since there is nothing recognizable in the making of the candles that they are for Chanukah. However, he also raises the possibility of making a Shehecheyanu when making tzitzit and tefillin, since it is obvious that they are going to be used for a mitzva.
Finally, we should note the view of theMagen Avraham, who claims that one who says kiddush before nightfall on the first night of Succot would not have to repeat kiddush after dark, but would have to repeat both the blessing on the Succah as well as Shehecheyanu. While it is beyond the parameters of this Chabura to explore the nature of the idea of adding on to the holidays by starting them early, this statement forces us to think which aspect of the day is really pulling the most weight with regards to Shehecheyanu. It would appear that it is not strongly connected to kiddush and is strongly connected to the day itself. Furthermore, it would seem that it is tied it with the mitzva of Succah, and that the Succah itself is closely connected to the day in a manner that the mitzva does not take on its full force until the night really comes, even if we try to start the day early.
IV. THE ANSWER IS...
While there is still much analysis to be done on this issue, I would like to offer a few approaches to Shehecheyanu to end this series. The first approach is that this blessing focuses on the performance of the mitzva itself. While this is a decent approach in certain contexts, it is not sufficient to cover all of our cases (such as buying new clothes and eating a new food). The second approach is also limited. Namely, we could claim that Shehecheyanu focuses on the idea of time, a notion most strongly accented in Eruvin 40b (ignoring the gourd part). Within this idea, we have to determine the relationship between the mitzvot performed on various days and the days themselves. The problem with this view, as with the first one, is that it ignores non-calendrical events. To solve this, we can adopt the view of Rav Sherira Gaon, who discounts the gemara in Berachot. Alternatively, we can claim that Shehecheyanu is a multi-faceted blessing and in addition to special days, there are other things that will bring one into a situation where it must be recited.
There are two other approaches which may be able to encompass all of our cases. One is that Shehecheyanu is said on "Kodak Moments" in one's life. What this means is that not only do we say it only days that are fixed into the calendar, such as holidays, but we say it also on events that do not happen on such a regular basis, such as a Brit Mila or a major purchase. While this can cover just about all of our cases, it fails to address why certain mitzvot require one to say Shehecheyanu and other ones do not- it would seem to imply that any mitzva done on a less-than-regular basis should need a Shehecheyanu to be said upon its performance.
Thus, we come to the final approach, namely saying that the gemara in Berachot is really the main source for the laws concerning Shehecheyanu. If this is the case, then Shehecheyanu can be framed, as per the view of Tosafot, as a blessing that focuses on happiness and thanks to Hashem. This is the view (cited last week) of theKesef Mishne, who claimed that the Shehecheyanu recited on the events listed in Hilchot Berachot was a blessing said as a "tefilla." This is perhaps the broadest approach possible, as it begins as relatively all-inclusive, and allows us to define and limit what types of simcha will qualify for a Shehecheyanu and which ones will not (such as occasions shared by several people). This view may also be implicit in the fact that if two people buy an object together, the blessing said is "ha-tov v'ha-meitiv," a blessing that is clearly one of thanks to Hashem. As the two seem to be interchangeable in these contexts, it may imply a strong connection between their natures.
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