Halacha for Thursday 18 Av 5777 August 10 2017

Using Perfume on Shabbat

Question: May one use perfume on one’s skin or clothing on Shabbat?

Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Beitzah (23a) states that both Rabba and Rav Yosef said that one may not spill a cup filled with perfume onto clothing on Shabbat, for this constitutes the prohibition of creating a new scent on clothing. This refers to the prohibition of creating a new substance on Shabbat and infusing this scent into the garment constitutes creating a new fragrant substance. Clearly then, the Gemara prohibits putting perfume onto garments on Shabbat as this constitutes the prohibition of creating a new substance. Maran Ha’Bet Yosef rules likewise, as does the Rama in his gloss (on Chapter 511). The custom is to indeed refrain from doing so in accordance with the opinion of several Rishonim who have quoted this ruling as Halacha.

The Turei Zahav infers from this that when the Kohanim bless the congregation on Shabbat or Yom Tov, they may not wash their hands with water mixed with rosewater (which is aromatic), for they are creating a new fragrant substance on their hands.

Nevertheless, Hagaon Chacham Tzvi (father of the Ya’abetz and a great Ashkenazi luminary who went to study among Turkish scholars in his youth and as a result, kept in close contact with them. He was thus known as “Chacham Tzvi” as per the Sephardic custom of calling rabbis “Chacham.” He cleverly pointed out that he preferred the Sephardic title of “Chacham” [wise man] rather than the Ashkenazi title of “Rav” [rabbi], for whereas wisdom livens its owner [see Yoma 83b], the rabbinate buries its owner [see Pesachim 87b]. His work is named after him: Responsa Chacham Tzvi) disagrees based on the Mishnah in Masechet Shabbat (111a) which states, “Sons of kings may rub rose-oil on their wounds on Shabbat.” Although rose-oil causes one’s skin to have a fragrant smell, this is still permissible. Several of the great Poskim bring other sources to permit this and they write that there is a distinction between putting perfume on clothing and putting perfume on one’s body: When perfume is placed on clothing, it is meant to stay there for a prolonged period of time and thus constitutes the prohibition of creating a new fragrant substance. However, when one puts perfume on one’s body, this is not meant to last for several days, for the smell will usually disappear in a short while; thus, our Sages did not include this in the prohibition of creating a new substance

Thus, halachically speaking, although one may not spray perfume onto clothing on Shabbat, one may, nevertheless, place perfume onto one’s body. Similarly, one may use deodorant and the like on Shabbat, for the scent created by spraying fragrances onto one’s body is not meant to last for a long time as it usually disappears quickly.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Laws of the Holiday of Sukkot

As per the request of many of our members and as a public service, we shall now list a synopsis of some laws which are essential for the upcoming Sukkot holiday: The Sukkah must be made of three walls and Sechach (the roof). The walls may be made of any material which can withstand a normal wi......

Read Halacha

The Customary Order of Rosh Hashanah

It is customary to eat certain symbolic foods during the two nights of Rosh Hashanah which signify good fortune for the entire upcoming year. It is therefore customary to eat black-eyed peas, pumpkin, leek, spinach, dates, pomegranates, apples dipped in honey, and meat of a sheep’s head on the......

Read Halacha

Megillah Reading-The Proper Procedure for One Who Has Missed Hearing a Portion of the Megillah

Every member of the Jewish nation is obligated to read the Megillah on the day of Purim. One must read it during the night and once again the next day, as the verse states, “My G-d, I call out to you during the day and you do not answer; during the night I have no rest.” This verse is wr......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Hearing Parashat Zachor

On the Shabbat preceding Purim, which is this coming Shabbat, after the opening of the Ark immediately following Shacharit prayers, two Sifrei Torah are removed; in the first one, we read the weekly Parasha (which is Parashat Tetzaveh this year, 5777) and in the second one we read the portion of &ld......

Read Halacha


The Custom of the “Commemoration of the Half-Shekel”-5777

It is customary to donate money before Purim as “a commemoration of the Half-Shekel” which was donated by the entire Jewish nation when the Bet Hamikdash stood. This money is customarily collected on the eve of Purim before reading the Megillah, as our Sages tell us (Megilla 13b) that &l......

Read Halacha

Motza’ei Yom Kippur-Unique Laws for this Year

Adding From the Mundane Onto the Holiness One must add some of the mundane weekday onto the holiness of Yom Kippur upon its exit, i.e. one should not end this holy day immediately with nightfall; rather, one should wait another few minutes. Thus, it is prohibited to eat or perform work on Motza&rsq......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Chametz and Kitniyot (Legumes) on Pesach

The Essence of Leavening The Torah (Shemot 13) tells us regarding the holiday of Pesach: “Matzot shall be eaten for seven days; neither leaven nor sourdough shall be seen in all of your borders.” The leaven that the Torah prohibits is produced by the combination of grain-flour and water......

Read Halacha

The Proper Time to Light Chanukah Candles

One should preferably light Chanukah candles immediately when the stars appear in the sky, which is approximately fifteen minutes after sunset during this time of year. Some Ashkenazim, however, customarily light at sunset. The Earliest Possible Time to Light Chanukah Candles Chanukah candles sh......

Read Halacha