The Blessing for First Times

Image: A ripe pomegranate split open on the bush. (LeeTravathan/pixabay)

There is a special blessing Jews say for first times, or first times in a long time.  The blessing is called Shehecheyanu [sheh-heh-kheh-YAH-noo.]  It’s a big word, and a very special blessing that recognizes that our lives happen in time, and that not all moments are alike.

First, the blessing itself:

Baruch Atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, shehecheyanu, v’kiy’manu, v’higiyanu laz’man hazeh.

And in English:

Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of Time-and-Space, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this moment.

We say this blessing at times of joy or pleasure, times when we are glad to be alive and to have reached this moment. We don’t say it for things that happen frequently (like Shabbat) or things that are sad (like funerals.)  Here are some examples of “shehecheyanu moments:”

  1. At the beginning of each Jewish holiday.
  2. When we taste the first fruit of a season (e.g., the first berries in springtime.)
  3. When we acquire something new and precious to us, either as a gift or a purchase.
  4. Some Jews say the blessing to mark any first time special moment.

If you want to know more details about the traditional rules, you can find them in an article on the Orthodox Union website.

Don’t forget, while it is nice to be able to say the blessings in Hebrew, it is also fine to say them in English.

Here is a You Tube video by Bim-Bam explaining the blessing and saying it aloud.

When was your most recent “shehecheyanu moment?”



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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

4 thoughts on “The Blessing for First Times”

  1. I try to remember to say it with every Shabbat candle blessing, because every week has brought something new, and I am grateful to reach every Shabbat. I hope to eventually build in the tradition of everyone who’s present for the candle-lighting sharing what they have to celebrate that week, even if it’s just “I made it through alive”.

  2. That is absolutely beautiful, and is a wonderful reminder of the little things in our lives that our Eternal God grants us, and we shouldn’t take them for granted. Acknowledgement is key. Thank you for the information. My most recent shehecheyanu moment happened, in fact, last night. As I was driving home through the National Forest, my headlights picked up what looked to be a nice 8-point buck on the side of the road. I was as startled to see him as I’m sure he was to see me! It was a breathtaking moment, and I owe that to the Creator.

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