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Shabbat Rosh Hashana - Haazinu 5774

Ask the Rabbi: The Timing of Shehecheyanu on New Clothes on the Second Night of Rosh Hashana

Rav Daniel Mann

Question: If I want to solve the problem of Shehecheyanu on the second night of Rosh Hashana with a new suit, when should I put it on? If I put it on before Ma’ariv, it seems to be hachana (preparation for, in this case, after the first day of Rosh Hashana), and anyway shouldn’t the beracha be made right away? Should I put it on right before Kiddush or even put on the jacket during Kiddush right before Shehecheyanu?


Answer: Let us first dismiss the question of hachana. It is not hachana if there is a purpose for the action on the holy day itself, even if the main benefit is for afterward, (Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 28:70). Putting on a new article of the clothing has an immediate benefit; it makes no difference that most of the time it is on is on the next day.

The question of whether putting on the clothes a couple hours before the beracha is too early has two parts: Is the beracha still valid? Is one permitted to wait?

Let us review the reasoning for the new clothes (or fruit). In deference to the minority opinions that Shehecheyanu should not be said at Kiddush on the evening of the second day of Rosh Hashana, the accepted practice is to try to have another reason to recite it anyway (Shulchan Aruch, OC 600:2; see Beit Yosef ad loc.). That way, the beracha will certainly not be l’vatala (in vain). This goal is fully gained even if ideally the beracha should have been recited earlier, as long as at the time of Kiddush, it is definitely appropriate. Indeed, the halacha is that if one did not recite Shehecheyanu on clothes right away, he can still recite it until he takes it off (V’zot Haberacha, p. 168), at least if he still has happiness from its being new (Kaf Hachayim, OC 223:31). One who was happy to put on a new suit before Ma’ariv still feels good when he thinks about it at Kiddush of the first meal with it on. Thus the effectiveness of the Shehechyanu is not an issue (not to mention that the need for the new clothes is only a chumra).

The next question is whether one may delay saying Shehechayanu on the garment. The answer to that is: yes. First, the accepted opinion is that there is not an obligation to make a beracha of Shehecheyanu over happy occasions (Magen Avraham 225:6; see also Yechaveh Da’at III:15). If it is not obligatory, waiting could not be forbidden and is proper when there is a valid reason. Realize the practice of the new fruit/clothes anyway probably includes a halachic compromise, as many poskim deal with the following question. The whole reason for the new fruit/clothes is the possibility that otherwise the Shehechyanu is uncalled for, in which case its recitation must relate to the fruit/clothes. But if that is so, isn’t the beracha a hefsek (improper break) between Kiddush and drinking the wine. There are many nuances of answers (see Minchat Shlomo 20 for one), but according to most of them, the situation of having the beracha relate to the fruit is not optimal but acceptable under the circumstances. Waiting with Shehecheyanu is not a bigger compromise than that. We have other cases that we wait for berachot to solve problems, including waiting with the beracha on tzitzit to subsume it under the beracha on the tallit (Shulchan Aruch, OC 8:10).

         Let us consider alternatives. Putting the jacket on during Kiddush is not only strange but also inappropriate for a few reasons. Might it be better to put on the clothes right before Kiddush? Maybe. But combining the fact that it is not natural to do so with the fact that I found no authoritative source who mentions it strengthens our impression that the standard practice is to put the new clothes on before going to shul. (The discussions – beyond our scope – about a woman at candle lighting and a ba’al tokeia using the new clothes idea also indicate that the clothes were not put on seconds before.)  While we understand stringency on Rosh Hashana, we consider being innovative and “holier” than the very reasonable practice of putting on the clothes before Ma’ariv not worthwhile.

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