Halacha for Tuesday 10 Kislev 5778 November 28 2017

Pleasant Scents Intended to Neutralize Foul Odors

Question: Should one recite the “Boreh Minei Besamim” blessings upon smelling the pleasant fragrance of air freshener or deodorant?

Answer: In the previous Halachot we have established that one must recite the Blessings on Pleasant Smells before enjoying any fragrant object. On colognes or perfumes common nowadays, one must recite the “Boreh Minei Besamim” blessing before smelling them. It would therefore seem that the same applies to the fragrance which is emitted from an air freshener.

Fragrant Objects Meant for Corpses and Air Fresheners
The Mishnah (Berachot 51b) states that in those times, it was customary to place a fragrant object in the coffin alongside a corpse in order to neutralize the foul odor emanating from the corpse. The Mishnah rules that one may not recite a blessing on such fragrant objects, for the “Boreh Minei Besamim” blessing was only instituted to be recited on objects meant to give off a good smell; however, fragrant objects meant only to neutralize a foul odor do not require any blessing whatsoever (Shulchan Aruch, Chapter 217).

Based on this, it seems that one should not recite a blessing on air fresheners common nowadays, for they too are meant only to neutralize foul odors and their primary purpose is not for the good scent emanating from them.

Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes (in his Chazon Ovadia-Berachot, page 330) that even if one sprays some of the contents of the air freshener in order to smell some of its pleasant fragrance, one should not recite a blessing on this, for it is doubtful if one may recite a blessing on the contents of an air freshener even if one intends to enjoy its pleasant scent. It is therefore proper to act stringently and not spray the contents of an air freshener merely in order to enjoy its good smell, for it is doubtful whether or not this requires a blessing. (However, regular usage of an air freshener is perfectly acceptable.)

Based on this, one should likewise not recite a blessing on the pleasant scent of deodorant, for deodorant was not created primarily because of its fragrance, for there are plenty of perfumes and colognes on the market which meet this purpose. Deodorant is made in order to neutralize foul odors and one may therefore not recite a blessing on it.

Summary: One should not recite a blessing on the pleasant scents of air fresheners or deodorant.

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