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Why is it that some make a Shehechiyanu at a Bris and some don't? And an identification of those who do and do not would be appreciated.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Sefardim make a Shecheyanu at a bris. This is also the prevailing custom among Ashkenazim (and everyone else) in Israel.

Background:

  • Tosafot (Sukkah 46a, ד"ה העושה) says that we don't make a shecheyanu on a bris, since it is not mentioned as one of the berachot for milah in massechet Menachot. Reason - only make Shehecheyanu on a mitzvah that has simcha (joy) associated with it. Ran also agrees, for different reasons.
  • Rambam (Berachot 11:9): Make shehecheyanu on a brit milah., even though it is not תדיר and doesn't happen all the time.
  • Ruling: Shulchan Aruch (YD 265:7) says that you say shecheyanu at a bris, Rema there says that we don't. The Vilna Gaon rules that you do say it.

Also see this article on the topic, as well as the footnotes here.

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It appears the Rema does give a case where he agrees the father does say a Shehechiyanu. He quotes a Maharil that if the child is a firstborn who must be redeemed, the father says shehecheyanu at the bris. The Shach (SK 17) says that the Rema misunderstood the Maharil, and says we don't say Shehechaynu at all. –  Menachem Sep 27 '11 at 7:58
    
I haven't looked at all the sources, but Tosafot Sukkah 46A says that we only make Shehecheyanu on a mitzva that has simcha associated with it, and therefore don't say Shehecheyanu by a bris. How does that fit with the statement in the Talmud (Megilah 16B) that Sasson (joy) [Ester 8:16] refers to Milah? –  Menachem Sep 27 '11 at 8:00
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