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Shehecheyanu on buying new Sefer

Category: // By Rabbi: הרב הילל מאירס // Answer date: 06.01.2021

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Question:

I live in small Jewish community doing Kiruv by a nearby University. Baruch Hashem I am ale to get Kosher food and meat etc. out here. The one thing I can’t get are Sefarim. Any Sefer I can get shipped here gives great Simchah because there are so few sefarim here and are hard to get. Should I make a bracha of Shehecheyanu on the sefer when I get it?

Answer:

You should not make a Shehecheyanu. Even though yes it gives you great Simcha to be able to get new Sefarim where you are. Since learning is a mitzvah, we do not make Shehecheyanu on doing mitzvahs that give us happiness unless it is the first time.
It is a known halacha that one says the bracha of Shehecheyanu when one buys new clothing or buys a new car or house etc. as the Shulchan Aruch writes Siman 223:3 : One who built a new house or bought new utensil,even if he has more of them, or bought one and then another, should says the blessing of Shehecheyanu each time.” However, there is a Machloket amongst the Poskim whether buying a new Sefer constitutes buying new utensil which you get joy from, which would require a bracha of Shehecheyanu. The other side is that since learning Torah is a mitzvah and a Sefer is just a vehicle to enjoy the learning in and Mitzvot do not have tangible pleasure so we do not say Shehecheyanu.
The Radbaz 3:412 writes that new Sefarim are not any different than buying new clothing, therefore you should say the bracha of Shehecheyanu with Hashem’s name, i.e. a full bracha. So, to the Magen Avraham Siman 223:5 writes in the name of Maharam MiRotenberg that one should say the bracha Shehecheyanu when buying new Sefarim.
The Magen Avraham himself argues with this opinion. He writes: It seem to me that only a utensil which has use you say Shehecheyanu. However, one does not make a bracha on new Sefarim since performing Mitzvot is not considered “pleasure”. We do not make the bracha of Shehecheyanu on any mitzvah which comes often as we wrote in Siman 22.
When the Magen Avraham says to look in Siman 23 he refers the halacha that one does not make a bracha on new Tefillin but ye son new Tallit, because Tefillin is a mitzvah and we do not get pleasure from mitzvot. The Magen Giborim explains that a Tallit is also an article of clothing which keeps you warm.

The Mor U’Ketziah (R’’ Yaakov Emden) finds the Magen Avraham to be highly questionable. He does not understand what does the fact that Mitzvot do not impart pleasure have to do with anything? How can you say that mitzvot do not impart pleasure to the Neshama? Is there not greater joy and pure pleasure to the Neshama more than following what Hashem wants? Even more so Sefarim which have both aspects, they are beloved by the Neshama and make the person happy as well. Since there pleasure is dependant on a physical object and one receives pleasure from seeing nicely written sefarim.
The question of the Mor Uktziah is that a person gets much pleasure out of learning Torah from the Sefarim . How are Sefarim less than new utensil which you make a bracha?
The answer might that since the whole point of a Sefer is what is inside of it, the Torah . It is the Torah which gives our Neshama pleasure and Mitzvot are not considered pleasure. A Sefer is just the vehicle through which we learn the Torah so there is no simcha about the Sefer itself just the contents.
The Chida writes that he custom is not make a bracha on Sefarim. You might say Shehecheyanu without Hashem’s name to acknowledge the enjoyment. Even very fancy and Chashuv sefarim like a Shas or Rambam one does not say bracha . Better to buy a new suit and when you put it on and say Shehecheyanu have the Sefer in mind. The Mishna Berura however quotes the Chayei Adam that if one has immense joy from a Sefer he may say Shehecheyanu because the bracha was instituted on buying something not the usage of it. The Mishna Berura writes we should not object to anyone who does say Shehecheyanu.

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