We saw some oranges from the supermarket today and I got excited!
Really? A couple of oranges?!! What’s so exciting?
Well it’s the month of Kislev (December) here in the Galilee and Hanukkah is approaching. So even though the weather is stunningly warm and sunny, and the Kalla lilies are starting to sprout in our garden, winter is here!!! (sympathies to all our Canadian friends shoveling snow already)
The other thing we associate with winter in Israel is citrus fruits. The autumn olive and date harvests are over, and now it’s turn for the oranges, grapefruits and lemons to ripen.
In North America and Europe in the last forty years or so, we’ve grown accustomed to seeing all fruits, all year round in the supermarkets because of modern transportation. Watermelon in January? No problem. Grapefruit for breakfast in June… obviously. It’s easy to lose touch with the miracle of God’s hand in nature, and the blessings that come from the land. Ask any urban child where bananas come from and he’ll answer, “the refrigerator.” If he’s really thoughtful, he might say, “the supermarket.”
Elsewhere we explained that when we recite a blessing on a piece of fruit, we are not doing anything to the fruit. We are acknowledging the source of the blessing we are receiving. However when we have the chance to eat a fruit for the first time in the new season, we usually recite an additional blessing before eating it.
The reason for the extra blessing is that whenever something gives us an exceptional jolt of joy, we should acknowledge the source of that blessing. We are obligated to “serve God with joy.” So something that elevates us to that state deserves mention.
I love fruit. And absence makes the heart grow fonder. So when I haven’t had a particular fruit since last year – even an orange, the first opportunity to relive the experience is a happy time!
So here’s the blessing:
Ba-ruch A-tah A-do-noi E-lo-hey-nu
Me-lech ha-o-lam sheh-heh-chee-ya-nu v’kee-yee-ma-nu
ve-hee-gee-ya-nu laz-man ha-zeh.
You are the source of all blessing, HaShem, our God, King of the
Universe, Who has kept us alive, and sustained us and
enabled us to reach this occasion [of being able to partake of the fruit of the new season].
Remember… it is only recited in a place where fruits are not available all year round.
Here’s more information about the laws of reciting “shehechiyanu” on fruits