“Sheheheyanu” on an Inheritance

In general the blessing of “Sheheheyanu” is recited on recurring events, such as holidays, as well as on joyous occasions. This blessing is also recited when one derives benefit from something. For example, the Shulhan Aruch (Orah Haim 223:2), based on the Gemara (Berachot 59b), writes that if one’s father passes away (h’v) and one was left with an inheritanceone should reciteSheheheyanuIf one had brothers who also inherited money from the father, the Shulhan Aruch continues, one would recite “Hatov Vehametiv” instead of Sheheheyanu. The Mishna Berura (O.H. 223:9), citing the Rashba (Shu”t HaRashba, § 245), says that although one would prefer that one’s parents notpass away and to forego any inheritance, in any event the blessing that is recited is not one of joy but rather of benefit, in this case money, that comes along with the passing of one’s parents.

Despite the Mishna Berura’s clarification, it may still appear insulting to a father’s memory to recite Sheheheyanu on an inheritance. Indeed, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichot Shlomo, Berachot) writes that the common custom nowadays is not to recite this blessing. Furthermore, according to Rashi (s.v. “Ulebasof”, Berachot 59b), one recites a blessing when one hears that one’s father passed away and was left with an inheritance. Rabbi Ya’akov Hagiz of Fes (Hilchot Ketanot) deduces from Rashi that if one knew about an inheritance before the passing of one’s father, then there is not such a feeling of benefit or excitement and as such one would not recite a blessing. Rabbi Yosef Berdugo (Divrei Yosef , § 4) understands Rashi differently and says that even ifone knew of an inheritance prior to one’s father’s passing, it is not a guarantee that the money is still present and that it may have been squandered or lost. As such, he disagrees with Rabbi Yosef Bedugo’s position and says that onewould still recite Sheheheyanu. Both would agree, however, that if one knew that the inheritance money was being held in a secure place such as a bank, one would not recite the blessing. This corroborates Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach’s claim that this blessing is not commonly recited anymore.

The Shulhan Aruch (Orah Haim 223:3) says that another situation in which Sheheheyanu is recited is if one builds or buys a house to live in. Although the Ben Ish Hai questions whether this blessing should be recited, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Hazon Ovadia Berachot) rules that one may rely on the Shulhan Aruchand recite it. Even if one takes out a mortgage to finance the purchase of the house, it is still considered to be a joyous endeavor, and thus one may reciteSheheheyanu. On the other hand, buying a house as an investment, such as to rent out or to sell at a profit, or if re-building a house that burnt down, would notwarrant the recital of a blessing.

Summary:   The custom nowadays is to not recite “Sheheheyanu” if onereceives an inheritance from a parent that passed awayOne may reciteSheheheyanu” if one builds or buys a new home to live in, even if it involves taking out a mortgage