I don’t enjoy the new fruit, should I still make shehekhiyanu on the second night of Rosh HaShana? - Matan - The Sadie Rennert

I don’t enjoy the new fruit, should I still make shehekhiyanu on the second night of Rosh HaShana? Rabbanit Debbie Zimmerman

Elul 5783 | September 2023

Topic : Shayla , Shabbat & Yom Tov ,


On the second night of Rosh HaShana the “new fruit” is generally something I don’t particularly enjoy eating. I try to wear something new for shehekhiyanu, but this year I don’t need anything new and don’t want to buy for no reason. Can I make shehekhiyanu on a new fruit if I don’t really like it?


On one foot

There are two elements to your question. The first is the halakha of saying shehekhiyanu on the second day of Rosh HaShana.[1] The second is when someone should make shehekhiyanu on a new fruit. Both these issues are debated. The former involves delving into the relationship between the two days of Rosh HaShana and why they are observed in Israel and not just in the diaspora. The latter depends on the reasons we say shehekhiyanu, which we spoke about briefly in another post and will mention here as well.

Halakhic authorities debate whether we should recite shehekhiyanu on the second night of Rosh HaShana. Because of this safek – doubt – some encouraged people to have a new fruit or set aside new clothes to wear, so there would be no doubt they should say shehekhiyanu. Yet even if one does not have anything new, Tur, Shulkhan Arukh, Rema and others rule they should still recite shehekhiyanu on the second night.

Therefore, you should say shehekhiyanu whether or not you eat the fruit. We’ll discuss whether or not you should eat the fruit.

Yom tov sheini – two for one

The Torah commands us to observe one day of Rosh HaShana, one day of Shavuot (Atzeret), and one day of yom tov on the first and last days of Pesach and Sukkot.[2] Outside of Israel the sages added a second day, yom tov sheini shel galuyot. On Rosh HaShana those of us in Israel also observe this second day. Why?

There are two general reasons given for yom tov sheini shel galuyot. Originally, Rosh Chodesh was not decided by a set calendar but was declared by the beit din (rabbinic court) in Jerusalem based on eyewitness testimony of the new moon. The lunar cycle is 29.53 days, so the next month could begin after twenty-nine or thirty days. Since the communities outside of Israel would not necessarily get word before the time of the festival they couldn’t be sure what day to celebrate, and they added an extra day. Even though we have a set calendar now, Jews outside of Israel continue to observe these two days.[3]

Two days of Rosh HaShana

People came from far and wide to the Beit Din to testify that they saw the new moon, and this could take time. On regular months the mussaf (additional) Temple service for Rosh Chodesh did not begin until after the testimony was accepted and the day was declared Rosh Chodesh – even if this didn’t happen until later in the day; outside of the Temple little was affected.

This is not the case for Rosh HaShana. Even though Temple service could be delayed until the Beit Din declared Rosh Chodesh, people had to observe the other laws of Rosh HaShana beginning at nightfall,sanctifying the day and abstaining from work. When acceptable witnesses came before midday the Beit Din could declare Rosh Chodesh with enough time for the Priests and Levites to complete the Temple services and inform the people that there was no need for a second day of Rosh HaShana. But if no valid witnesses arrived by mincha time (a bit after midday) the Beit Din was concerned there would be problems and did not receive witness testimony and the next day was de facto Rosh HaShana.

So why continue to observe yom tov on the “first” day? Since the people had spent most of the day acting as though it was sanctified the sages declared they should continue to act as if it was sanctified, so they would not come to trivialize it in the future. After the destruction of the Temple Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai instituted that the beit din should accept witnesses the entire day, yet if the witnesses came after mincha the people would still observe two full days of Rosh HaShana.[4]

Therefore, there were times that they observed two days of Rosh HaShana even though there was no doubt; for part of the day they knew for certain that one of the days was not the first of Tishrei.[5] On every other holiday yom tov sheini was originally limited to those times and places the exact date was in doubt, but even in the days of the Temple this was not the case. Therefore, the second day of Rosh HaShana has a different status.

Based on a mishna that prohibits using an egg that was born on the first day of yom tov on the second day, the gemara rules that the two days of Rosh HaShana are a “yoma arikhta,” a long day.[6] Yet this designation is very limited, in most other ways the two days of Rosh HaShana are considered separate. The second day of Rosh HaShana is generally treated like any other yom tov sheini; we may not prepare things such as food from the first to second day, and at times we are lenient on the second day because it is considered a rabbinic – as opposed to Torah – mitzvah.[7]

Shehekhiyanu on day two

On yom tov sheni shel galuyot we say shehekhiyanu. Since Rosh HaShana is considered yoma arikhta, and has “one sanctity” perhaps it should be omitted on the second night?

Rashi wrote that according to his rabbis we shouldn’t say shehekhiyanu on the second night because both days of Rosh HaShana have kedusha ekhat (one sanctity); he disagreed. As a proof he cites standard practice – both where he lives and places he has visited recite shehekhiyanu. He explains that the cases where Rosh HaShana is considered yoma arikhta are limited to the topics raised in the beginning of Beitza; otherwise we don’t differentiate between the second day of Rosh HaShana and any other yom tov sheini.[8] Tur cites Rashbam (in the name of his grandfather Rashi) and Ba’al ha’Itur who explain that we make shehekhiyanu on the second night because there were times the second day was counted as the first of the month even though people fully observed Rosh HaShana the previous day – meaning the second day was not the day observed in doubt.

Nevertheless, as the geonim generally ruled not to recite shehekhiyanu on the second night of Rosh HaShana, the Rosh rules that in order to avoid making the blessing in doubt one should also make it on a new fruit or new item of clothing. Tur, Shulkhan Arukh, and Rema all agree.[9] Yet ultimately both Shulkhan Arukh and Rema teach that one should still say shehekhiyanu on the second night, even if they can’t find a new fruit.

These sources generally speak of saying shehekhiyanu during kiddush, but since women who light candles usually recite shehekhiyanu when they light, Mishna Berura adds that the same halakha applies to both situations – while it’s preferable to wear something new or put out a new fruit, one should recite the blessing regardless.[10]

Shehekhiyanu on a new fruit one doesn’t like

It’s clear that you should recite shehekhiyanu no matter what. The question is – should you still eat the new fruit?

Interestingly, Rashi and Rambam teach that we say shehekhiyanu when we first see a new seasonal fruit growing, not the first time we eat it.[11] Rosh and Tosafot explain that the custom is to say shehekhiyanu before eating the fruit. Tur and Shulkhan Arukh rule accordingly, but they still allow for reciting the blessing when seeing the new fruit.[12] Magen Avraham and Mishna Berura explain that the custom changed over time; at one point people were happy just seeing a new fruit growing, now some people are only happy when they eat it; since we don’t want to differentiate, we reserve the blessing for when we eat it.[13]

A beraita in Brakhot teaches that “A person may not enjoy anything in this world without making a blessing, and anyone who takes pleasure in this world without [making] a blessing has stolen from God (ma’al).”[14] Chatam Sofer learns from here that someone who enjoys a new fruit is obligated to make shehekhiyanu.[15]

But it doesn’t seem that shehekhiyanu should be limited to occasions of physical pleasure. Shulkhan Arukh includes shehekhiyanu on new fruits in the laws of birkot re’iya, blessings said on sights such as lightning, the sea, strange looking people, and other wonders of nature. In some of these cases it doesn’t seem like shehekhiyanu is a blessing said for enjoying something from this world, but rather a birkat ha’shevakh v’ha’hoda’a, a blessing of praise and gratitude, recited over God’s amazing works. In this case just seeing the variety and renewal of seasonal fruits should be enough reason to praise God. Even those who say we should only recite shehekhiyanu if the new item brings us joy accept that the joy does not have to be tasting the new fruit, but can also be experienced by seeing it.


Finding joy and pleasure in renewal

If eating the new fruit is truly unpleasant, it seems you should not eat it. As Shulkhan Arukh and Rema rule, you recite shehekhiyanu on the second night of Rosh HaShana even if you don’t have anything new. Nevertheless, it seems that if you can find joy in the renewed availability of this fruit, you should have that in mind as well when you recite shehekhiyanu.[16] For example, the dragon fruit we buy is not fresh enough to truly be tasty, I’d rather eat an apple. But just seeing that beautiful fruit God created makes me happy.

If eating the new fruit is not unpleasant but you also don’t expect the taste will make you happy, in my humble opinion I recommend including it in your shehekhiyanu and trying the fruit. The gemara in Kiddushin relates that Rabbi Laizer would put aside money so he could taste every fruit in season, based on Rav’s statement that a person will one day have to account for everything they saw and did not eat.[17]  Why is this so important?

God created a world of wonder, full of variety. Just as the plants and landscape change throughout the seasons, so do we. Things we once liked may become less enjoyable, and we may acquire a taste for something we previously avoided. But if we don’t leave ourselves open to these new experiences we will never know.

Rosh HaShana is an opportunity to begin anew, to bless God for “giving us life, and sustaining us, and bringing us to this time.” God granted us life, put us into a world that offers a multitude of options. These not only nurture and sustain us, they can also be a source of wonder and joy. God made us and the world dynamic so we could grow and change from one time to another. Our ability to change for the better and open ourselves up to more of God’s wonders is certainly a good reason to rejoice and thank God for such an opportunity – even if we decide we prefer to eat the apple.


[1] Which is related to the general question of shehekhiyanu on the second day of yom tov on other festivals – yom tov sheini shel galuyot – observed outside of Israel.

[2] On Sukkot the final day, Shmini Atzeret, is also considered a festival in its own right and we recite shehekhiyanu.

[3] Now that the calendar is set and there is no more doubt, why do people still observe a second day? In general, halakhic authorities have many reasons not to change entrenched rabbinic laws and customs. Some of them are based on rules that have governed halakhic decisions for as long as we can remember, such as the rule that one beit din may not nullify laws made by a previous beit din unless they are greater in Torah and numbers. The Talmud also records an additional concern – we must keep the customs of our ancestors even when the reason behind them is not currently relevant because it may become relevant in the future, at a time when there is no one knowledgeable enough to figure out a solution. If we continue to observe the customs, we’re less likely to make mistakes in the future. (TB Beitza 4b. Rav Hai Gaon, Otzar HaGeonim Yom Tov 4:2.)

Others suggest a less technical and more intrinsic answer. Each yom tov has a special sanctity that can uplift our spirit. As the land of Israel is sanctified, it makes it easier for those in the land to absorb the power of the day. Outside of Israel people are not as attuned to sanctity and they need another day to achieve the same results. (Derekh Mitzvotekha 114:1)

[4] Rashi Beitza 4b; Beit Yosef OC 600

[5] Rashi Beitza 4b

[6] The prohibition of nolad and mekhubar. TB Beitza ibid

[7] In accordance with the rule sfeika d’rabbanan l’kula – we are lenient when there’s doubt about a rabbinic law. (Shulkhan Arukh 526:4; 503a)

[8] Except for the issues of beitza shenolda and talush, as we rule according to the gemara in Beitza.

[9] OC 600. Magen Avraham (2), Eliya Rabba (ibid 4) and Be’er Heitev (1) explain that people mistakenly think they need a new fruit for yom tov sheini in general, but it’s really only for Rosh HaShana, seemingly because of the issue of yoma arikhta.
interestingly, Shulkhan Arukh rules that we do not make shehekhiyanu on shofar the second day, unless we did not sound the shofar the first day because it was Shabbat. Here too Rema says it’s preferable that the one making the blessing and sounding the shofar wears something new. (ibid 3)

[10] Mishna Berura ibid 4

[11] Rashi Eruvin 40b and Rosh Eruvin 3:10

[12] Tur and Shulkhan Arukh 225:3-4

[13] Mishna Berura ibid 11

[14] TB Berakhot 35a

[15] Responsa OC 55

[16] It’s unclear if you should make the blessing on seeing a new fruit you don’t plan to eat at other times, but it’s certainly another safek to add to the reasons to say shehekhiyanu on the second night of Rosh HaShAna.

[17] TY Kiddushin 4:12

Rabbanit Debbie Zimmerman Debbie Zimmerman graduated from the first cohort of Hilkhata – Matan’s Advanced Halakhic Institute and is a Halakhic Responder. She is a multi-disciplinary Jewish educator, with over a decade of experience in adolescent and adult education. After completing a BA in Social Work, Debbie studied Tanakh in the Master’s Program for Bible in Matan and Talmud in Beit Morasha.

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