“Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha-Olam Shehehchiyahnu vekiyamanu vehegianu lazman ha-zeh,” I recited to myself, when I came out on to the back deck, the first morning this year it’s been warm enough to sit in the sun and drink my cappuccino. David shoveled the snow off the deck yesterday, just so we could do this, knowing the forecast was for a sunny day, wanting to be out here without our feet in snow.
What is the Shehechiyanu blessing, and what does it mean? Literally, it means “blessed are You, our God, Ruler of the universe, who has kept us alive, and sustained us, and enabled us to reach this moment.”
The Shehechiyanu is a Jewish blessing that thanks God for bringing us to a moment of joy and renewal in our lives. It’s way to stop and cherish a moment, particularly in the cycle of time we experience as our lives move with the rhythm of seasons and yearly holidays and events. The Shehechiyanu is recited on Jewish holidays, when a ritual is observed for the first time during a year, or for the first time in a person’s life, or when something happens for the first time in the year.
Besides saying the Sheheckiyanu at holidays and festivals, Eric always recited the blessing the first time he went kayaking in a new year, at the first snowfall, the first cross country ski, the first fresh peas from the garden, the first swim in Squam Lake, the first fresh corn, any moment that was a blessing to be able to experience again. And how right he was to celebrate all those moments of return and renewal, because he got fewer than the normal share, living a relatively short life.
Two weeks ago Emilio was named in our Temple, and he was given Eric’s Hebrew name — Yedidya. Friend of God. The Rabbi had asked Adrienne and Matt to talk about the person Emilio was named for, and what traits they hope Emilio will carry into the world from him. Adrienne talked about a number of Eric’s traits she hopes Emilio will have, but she also talked about how she hopes Emilio will live his life. “When my father was very sick, he said, ‘If I have to die, I know I’ve had a good life. I have no regrets.’ I wish that for Emilio,” Adrienne said. “That he’ll live a life that will allow him to look back and have no regrets.”
Celebrating moments of blessing and renewal is a path to such a life.
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And, towards the end of the naming ceremony, as Emilio started to get fussy we all said the Sheheckiyanu and after, he was happy again.
That’s why he’s Yedidya.