No festival is complete without the Shehecheyanu blessing. It has been part of Jewish life for nearly 2000 years. Beginning in the Talmud (Ber. 54a, Pes. 7b, Sukkah 46a, etc.), it has become the way in which we greet any new and exciting moment. We say, "Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has kept us in life, preserved us and enabled us to reach this time". Whilst it does not necessarily require an elaborate musical setting, there is a famous fast-paced musical rendition composed by Meyer Machtenberg, an
Eastern European choirmaster who flourished in the United States a century ago. Shehecheyanu says three things: 1. God has "kept us in life". Life is the supreme blessing. We should never tire of it. It is true that Jonah in the Bible said that it was better to die than to live, but I hope his despair was momentary. If ever any of us should want to give up on life, the answer is to find a good deed to do, and suddenly life will have meaning once again. It is not only our own life that we should preserve at all costs, but that of others. Elie Wiesel, writing about the Holocaust, summed it all up by saying, "A child died - and it wanted to live". Every child and every human being has a right to live and if anyone, God forbid, has the thought of killing someone, a much better option is to perform an act of love and humanity. 2. God has "preserved us". Every moment is dangerous, wherever we are. It's amazing how almost always we reach the end of the day safe. If sometimes we complain about the problem of evil, isn't there also a problem of good? So many good things happen to us that we should daily bless God for the fact that we can wake up, we can live, we can move, we can think, we can love, and we can spend another day usefully. 3. God has "enabled us to reach this time". Which time? Every time, every moment, every day. So many special days punctuate the year, and human life. So often it happens that someone who is getting older and not so well says, for example, to a grandchild, "I want to be there at your Bar-mitzvah, I want to be there at your wedding", and so often their superhuman effort of will keeps them going. No wonder they want to say Shehecheyanu. But whoever we are, every day is a privilege to celebrate the thought that life is so full of joy and exhilaration. 

"OzTorah", Copyright (c) 2001 by Rabbi Raymond Apple.
Rabbi Apple allows these e-mails to be distributed and
reprinted on the condition that the following notice is
included intact: "Reprinted from Rabbi Raymond Apple's
e-mail list:".