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Rabbi Yisroel Langer, cRc Dayan
At the beginning of every Yom Tov we recite the beracha of Shehecheyanu during Kiddush. Everyone is obligated in this beracha; men and women alike. Outside of Eretz Yisroel this beracha is recited on the second night of Yom Tov as well as the first. The only days of Yom Tov on which this beracha is not recited are the final two days of Pesach (since these days are not considered to be a new Yom Tov).
The best time to recite the beracha of Shehecheyanu is during Kiddush. If one accidentally omitted the Shehecheyanu from Kiddush on the first night of Yom Tov, he recites it any time he remembers throughout the entire first day. If one forgets the beracha of Shehecheyanu on the second night, he may recite it up until the end of Yom Tov, (i.e. through the eighth day of Pesach).1
The Matteh Efraim2 says that the minhag is for women to recite the beracha of Shehecheyanu when lighting2b the Yom Tov candles (except of course for the final two days of Pesach). Hagaon Rav Yaakov Emden3 holds that since there are no early halachic authorities who mention this minhag, a woman should not make a Shehecheyanu when lighting candles but rather wait until Kiddush to fulfill her obligation (by listening to the Shehecheyanu of the one making Kiddush). However, he adds, if a woman already has the minhag to make the Shehecheyanu after hadlakas neiros (candle lighting) she should not change her minhag4. This is also the Psak of Hagaon R’ Akiva Eiger and the Mishnah Berurah5. If a woman is reciting Kiddush herself (e.g. Pesach night where some have the minhag that all members of the family including the women recite Kiddush) and she already said the Shehecheyanu at hadlakas neiros, according to everyone she does not repeat it at kiddush.
When one makes a beracha on food, after the beracha is made he may not speak until he partakes of the food. Even to answer “amen” to another beracha is prohibited. If one does speak out loud, he must repeat the beracha. On this note the Poskim deal with the following Sheila. If a woman recited the beracha of Shehecheyanu at hadlakos neiros, (in accordance with her minhag) should she answer “amen” to the Shehecheyanu of Kiddush? HaGaon R’ Tzvi Pesach Frank zt”l6rules that since the woman already fulfilled her obligation of Shehecheyanu, to answer “amen” to the Shehecheyanu of Kiddush would be a hefsek (interruption), between the beracha of Borei Pri Hagafen and the drinking of the wine. Therefore if she intends to drink wine she may not answer “amen” to the Shehecheyanu of Kiddush. The Shevet HaLevi7 and HaGaon R’ Yosef Shalom Elyashiv8 agree partially to this ruling. They maintain that although a woman should not answer “amen” to the Shehecheyanu of Kiddush, on the Yom Tov of Pesach9 she should. The reason is that the Shehecheyanu at hadlakas neiros covers the Yom Tov, while the Shehecheyanu of Kiddush on Pesach night covers the other mitzvos of the night as well10 (matzah, four cups of wine, etc.). Therefore, even if one recited Shehecheyanu at hadlakas neiros, to answer “amen” to the Shehecheyanu of Kiddush would not be a hefsek.
The practice of most households is for the woman to answer “amen” to the Shehecheyanu of Kiddush even if she already recited the Shehecheyanu at hadlakas neiros. This practice is condoned by HaGaon R’ Moshe Feinstein zt”l11and HaGaon R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l12. Rav Moshe explains that everyone who is listening to Kiddush is considered subordinate to the one making Kiddush. Therefore, just as the Shehecheyanu is not a hefsek for the one making Kiddush so too it is not considered a hefsek for those listening to his Kiddush (even if they fulfilled their obligation of Shehecheyanu at hadlakas neiros).13
1 M.B. 473:1
2b Within this Minhag, some women recite the berachos before lighting the candles while others recite the berachos afterward (like on Shabbos). See Moadim Uzmanim Hagadah p. 48 that even if one recites the beracha before lighting the candles the Shehecheyanu should be recited after the candles are lit. However the minhag is not like this.
3 Sheilas Yaavetz 107
4 As was the case with R’ Yaakov Emden’s own wife.
5 263 s.k. 23
6 Har Tzvi 154
7 Volume III, 69
8 quoted in Shvus Yitzchok Pesach 7:3
9 see Shevet halevi that this holds true for succos as well.
10 See Siddur hayavetz and Kaf Hachaim (473s.k. 6) that when one makes the Shehecheyanu at kiddush he should have in mind that it’s going on all the mitzvos of Yom Tov. (see Seder Haruch volume I p. 288 note 11 who gives an explanation as to why the Mishna Berura doesn’t mention this halacha.
11 Igros Moshe Volume IV 101:1. Rav Moshe proves this to be the appropriate practice from R’ Yakov Emden mentioned before. For if one would not be allowed to answer “Amen”, R’ Yaakov Emden would not have allowed his wife to keep the custom of saying Shehecheyanu at candlelighting. See also Igros Moshe Volume IV 21:9
12 Minchos Shlomo Volume II 58:2
13 see Minchos Shlomo (ibid.) who offers an alternative explanation as to why the “Amen” is not considered a hefsek
Published in Parsha Encounters, Tazria 5763