Halacha for Wednesday 4 Kislev 5778 November 22 2017

Reciting the Blessing on Fragrant Objects Immediately Prior to Enjoyment and an Object About Which One is Uncertain if it Emanates a Pleasant Smell

Question: If one has mint leaves in front of him and one is unsure whether or not they still emanate a pleasant smell, how should one act with regards to the blessing of “Boreh Minei Besamim”?

Answer: In the previous Halacha, we have discussed the basis of this topic that one must recite the appropriate blessing before smelling any fragrant object. Some objects require the “Boreh Minei Besamim” blessing, while others require either a “Boreh Atzeh Besamim,” “Boreh Isbeh Besamim,” or “Ha’Noten Re’ah Tov Ba’Perot” blessing. (We shall discuss the details of these laws further.)

Reciting the Blessing Before One Smells
Clearly, just as regarding food, one recites a blessing before eating the food, similarly with regards to blessings on pleasant smells, one must recite the blessing before enjoying the smell. If one did not recite the blessing before smelling, one may not recite the blessing after having enjoyed the smell already.

Nevertheless, the Mishnah Berura (Chapter 216, Subsection 2) states that if one mistakenly smelled the fragrant object without reciting a blessing, one may, in fact, recite the blessing and then smell the object again; in this way, one will likewise exempt the previous smelling as well. (However, this is not the preferable practice and should only be done if one has already mistakenly smelled without reciting a blessing.)

Reciting the Blessing Only When One Intends to Enjoy
Regarding our question about when one has an object, such as dry mint leaves, in front of him and one is uncertain whether they still emanate a pleasant smell, clearly, we cannot say that if one wishes to smell these leaves, one should first recite the “Boreh Isbeh Besamim” blessing and only then check if they have a good smell, for if they turn out not to have a fragrant smell, the blessing will have been in vain. On the other hand, it seems that one cannot just smell the leaves without reciting a blessing, for one may not enjoy a pleasant smell without first reciting a blessing.

Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l discusses this dilemma (in his Chazon Ovadia-Berachot, page 308) and quotes several great Acharonim who write that one must only recite a blessing on fragrant objects when one intends to enjoy them. However, if one smells the item only to ascertain whether or not it has a pleasant smell, there is no need to recite a blessing. He quotes Hagaon Harav Chaim Palagi as ruling likewise in his Ruach Chaim.

Thus, if one has an object, such as mint leaves, in front of him and one is uncertain whether or not a pleasant smell still emanates from it, one should smell it slightly in order to ascertain that it does indeed have a good smell in which case one should then recite the “Boreh Isbeh Besamim” blessing and then smell as much as one wishes.

Ask the Rabbi

8 Halachot Most Popular

Pausing Silently in the Middle of the Amida Prayer

The Amida prayer must be recited with continuity. One may not interrupt one’s Amida prayer for any reason. In the previous Halacha, we have written that if one begins reciting the Amida prayer and senses a foul odor emanating from a baby and the like, one must stop praying immediately, for......

Read Halacha

Question: What should one do if one senses a foul odor, such as from a baby and the like, while one is standing and reciting the Amida prayer?

Answer: The Torah states, “And your camp shall be holy.” We derive from this verse that one may not pray, recite a blessing, or any other words of holiness when there is something repulsive, such as excrement or a foul odor in the area. Thus, one may not pray when a child is running a......

Read Halacha

Cooking by Non-Jews in Restaurants or Hotels

Question: We have written in the past regarding a restaurant where a Jew ignites the flame in the morning that although a non-Jewish cook places the foods on the fire, it is nevertheless permissible to eat in such restaurants and this does not constitute a prohibition of foods cooked by a non-Jew. R......

Read Halacha

Prayer Texts

The various texts of the prayer found among the various communities of the Jewish nation all have strong and holy roots. Therefore, one should not deviate from the prayer text that one’s forefathers were accustomed to. Hence, a Sephardic individual should not adopt the prayer text of Ashkenazi......

Read Halacha

If One Must Rise Before a Rabbi Every Time He Enters the Room

Question: The custom in our community is to rise every time the rabbi of the synagogue enters the sanctuary. Even if the rabbi enters the synagogue several times, we rise for him every time. Recently though, one of the members of the synagogue raised issue with this and said that the more observant ......

Read Halacha

The Obligation to Stand While Kaddish and Barechu are Recited

Question: When the Chazzan or an individual receiving an Aliya to the Torah recites “Barechu Et Hashem Ha’Mevorach” and the congregation replies “Baruch Hashem Ha’Mevorach Le’Olam Va’ed,” must the congregation rise completely or partially or is there n......

Read Halacha

Praying in Pajamas

Question: Can one pray while wearing pajamas? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have established that before praying, one must prepare a fitting place, proper attire, and cleanse one’s body and thoughts, as the verse in the book of Amos states, “Prepare yourself before your G-d, Isra......

Read Halacha

Praying Barefoot

Question: May one pray while wearing sandals or while one is barefoot? Answer: When one prays, one must prepare one’s environment, clothing, body, and thoughts accordingly, for one will be standing before the King of all kings. Respectable Garments While Praying The Gemara (Shabbat 9b)......

Read Halacha