Halacha for Thursday 5 Kislev 5778 November 23 2017

The Blessings of “Minei” and “Atzeh Besamim” on Fragrant Objects

In the previous Halachot, we have discussed that prior to enjoying any pleasant-smelling object, one must recite the appropriate blessing. These blessings are classified as “Blessing on Pleasant Smells.”

There are four blessings included in this category: “Boreh Atzeh Besamim,” “Boreh Isbeh Besamim,” “Boreh Minei Besamim,” and “Ha’Noten Re’ach Tov Ba’Perot.”

Let us now discuss which blessing is recited for the various kinds of fragrant objects:

Boreh Minei Besamim-Natural Musk Fragrance
Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 216, Section 2) writes: “If the fragrant object is a tree or a kind of tree, one recites the ‘Boreh Atzeh Besamim’ blessing. If it is a plant, one recites the ‘Boreh Isbeh Besamim’ blessing. If the object is neither a tree nor a plant, such as ‘musk,’ one recites the ‘Boreh Minei Besamim’ blessing. If the object is an edible fruit, one recites ‘Ha’Noten Re’ach Tov Ba’Perot.’”

When Maran writes that one recites “Boreh Minei Besamim” on “musk,” this refers to a kind of perfume manufactured until this very day. It is not made from anything which grows from the ground, such as fruit or plants; rather, it is an animal-derivative (made from the blood or other secretions of animals). Others say that this “musk” is indeed the “Myrrh” mentioned in the Torah and is one of the eleven ingredients of the incense offered in the Bet Hamikdash. (See Chazon Ovadia-Berachot-310)

Boreh Atzeh Besamim
Cloves are a kind of branch and one must therefore recite the blessing of “Boreh Atzeh Besamim” before smelling them. The same applies to cinnamon sticks and one must recite the “Boreh Atzeh Besamim” blessing before smelling them.

Nevertheless, this only applies if the cinnamon sticks or cloves are whole. However, if they are crushed or ground and are primarily meant to spice foods, one should recite the “Boreh Minei Besamim” blessing before smelling them. (Halacha Berura, Chapter 216, Subsection 17)

Basil requires the “Boreh Atzeh Besamim” blessing (see Chazon Ovadia-Berachot, page 321). Similarly, the blessing on roses, jasmine, and rosemary is “Boreh Atzeh Besamim,” for they are all considered kinds of trees (see Halacha Berura ibid, Subsection 31).

In the next Halacha, we shall discuss which items require the “Boreh Isbeh Besamim” and “Ha’Noten Re’ach Tov Ba’Perot” blessings.

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