Blessings over Fragrance

  1. A person should make a blessing before he enjoys a fragrance. Chazal based
    this on the verse (Tehillim 150:6) “All the neshamah will praise
    G-d.” What is it that the neshamah, but not the body, enjoys?
    Fragrance. Even though fragrance is a physical pleasure, the inner delight
    we get from a fragrance lasts much longer. Because it is a physical pleasure
    that passes immediately, we don’t say an after-blessing on fragrance, just
    as we don’t say an after-blessing on food once it has been digested.

  2. For the same reason, we do not say “Shehechianu” over fragrance, even
    if the spice grows fresh every year. It is not appropriate to say
    “Shehechianu” for a pleasure which pertains largely to the nefesh because
    the nefesh is eternal.

  3. The blessing over fragrance is recited no matter how small the quantity of
    spices.

  4. If a person cannot smell a fragrance, (as when he as a cold) he may not
    recite the blessing over fragrance for others in havdalah . The use of
    spices in havdalah is a custom of the Sages (if he doesn’t have spices, a
    person is not required to make an effort to get them). Just as in all
    blessings that are recited before enjoying a physical pleasure, a person
    cannot recite the blessing for others if he does not himself partake of the
    pleasure for which the blessing is recited. Nevertheless, he can recite the
    blessing for his children who have reached the age of education.

  5. If a person isn’t sure whether he can smell the fragrance, or if the
    spices are still good, he should smell them to see if they have a fragrance,
    and then – if they do – make the blessing and smell them again.

  6. If a person forgot to recite a blessing before smelling spices, he should
    recite a blessing and smell them again. If he can’t smell them again, he
    may recite the blessing if he does so immediately afterwards (toch
    c’day dibur
    ).

  7. Regarding fragrant fruits, there are poskim in our generation who are
    doubtful about reciting a blessing over their fragrance because nowadays
    fruits are used for eating, not for their fragrance.

  8. There are poskim who hold that just as a person fulfils the requirement of
    reciting a blessing on many kinds of foods by reciting the blessing shehakol,
    he also fulfills the requirement of reciting a blessing over fragrance with shehakol.
    There are many poskim who hold that when the recitation of the blessing over
    fragrance is in doubt, a person can avoid doubt by reciting shehakol
    on food with the intention of relating the blessing to the fragrance as
    well.

  9. No blessing should be recited over perfumes because they usually are made
    from things which would not require a blessing, as when they are produced
    synthetically by chemical processes. No blessing is recited on air
    fresheners or fragrant soaps because they were manufactured primarily to
    remove bad smells, not for their fragrance.