We are beginning Klal 62, which discusses the halachos of birchas shehecheyanu and hatov vehametiv.
The Chayei Adam begins with shehecheyanu. The Gemara says that shehecheyanu applies to events which occur mi’zman l’zman, on a cyclical basis. Chazal instituted that, in conjunction with fulfilling the mitzvah, one should recite shehecheyanu to thank Hashem for arriving at this time. This definition applies to three broad categories:
- Mitzvos and special occasions which occur throughout the year and on a recurring basis (e.g., sukkah). In these cases, we thank Hashem not only for the opportunity to do the mitzvah, but for the fact that we have made it to this event in the year.
- New fruits in their season. It is similar to the first category in the sense that we thank Hashem for the new fruit in conjunction with gratitude that we have made it to this season.
- A new item (e.g., new suit). We will learn that this category will depend on the person and whether the item is significant to them or not.
It is harder to understand how this category is related to the Gemara’s criteria of mi’zman l’zman. If a person had to wait a long time to purchase the item, it could be more understandable, but we know that is not necessarily the case in every situation.
It could be that since shehecheyanu is the bracha Chazal instituted for new items, they included this category of items under it, even though it does not fully meet the criteria. Alternatively, it could be that even if one did not have to wait a long time to purchase the item, the proper way to thank Hashem for the privilege of meriting this new item is through thanking Him for the fact that one remained alive to receive it and enjoy it.
We will learn that the bracha of hatov vehametiv only applies when there is benefit to others as well, and does not apply to benefit limited to oneself.
The bracha shehecheyanu is recited on occasions which occur mi’zman l’zman. This applies to three broad categories:
- Mitzvos and special occasions which occur on a cyclical basis
- New fruits
- New items