Monday, October 5, 2009

Shechiyanu Fruit

I never realized how special Shechiyanu was until I moved to Israel.

I had grown up in America, where food was something I took for granted. I would walk into a supermarket, or fruit and vegetable store, where every available amount of produce was sitting there, just waiting for me to pick up and enjoy. Foods in season, out of season, coming into season, and never in season were always in season at my local stores.

My mother has a friend who came to America from Russia. The first time she stepped foot into a a grocery store, she fainted. She had never seen so much food available in her entire life- as she lived in Russia, where rationing, and food shortages were common.

Of course, price was an issue in America, as those fruits that were out of season were more expensive, but usually, after shopping around, one could find them for decent prices also.

Then I moved to Israel. Israel is built on an agrarian society- where food is grown by the people in the country themselves. And not everything is available all the time. Seasonal fruits are really seasonal. There are times when I can't get celery, or parsnip. Pomegranates are a yearly treat, as are clementines. Sometimes I even can't get sweet potatoes.

So, there are those who hold that the Shechiyanu blessing, made on a 'new' fruit, is one made when the fruit has just come into season. In America, almost all fruits were available all the time, making finding an interesting fruit a necessity. Here, I feel blessed to make the blessing on a plain old clementine, as I truly haven't had them in a year- since the last season was last year.
Some use mangoes, or kiwi, pretty commonplace in other parts of the world.

But it makes me feel so blessed- since it helps me recognize Hashem's bounty, and enjoy His simple delights and creations- like a fruit that only shows up once a year.

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