Halacha for Wednesday 16 Tevet 5778 January 3 2018

Reciting a Blessing on the Aroma of Coffee

Question: May one recite a blessing on the pleasant aroma emanating from coffee?

Answer: In the Halachot published approximately a month ago, we have written that one must recite the appropriate blessing on any pleasant-smelling object. For instance, a kind of tree branch which emits a pleasant smell, such as a Haddas (myrtle branch), requires the “Boreh Atzeh Besamim” blessing.

If one takes a pleasant-smelling fruit to smell, such as an Etrog, pineapple, and the like, one must recite the blessing of “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam Ha’Noten Re’ach Tov Ba’Perot.”

It therefore seems that since coffee is a type of fruit which is ground and drunk as a beverage, if one smells it with the intention of enjoying its pleasant smell, one must recite the “Ha’Noten Re’ach Tov Ba’Perot” blessing.

Nevertheless, this matter is indeed subject to a disagreement among the Poskim. Indeed, the Rishonim disagree whether or not one recites a blessing on the pleasant smell of freshly-baked bread. Halachically speaking, Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch rules that one should not recite a blessing on the wafting scent of freshly-baked bread because of the doubt involved. Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l rules likewise in his Chazon Ovadia-Berachot (page 328).

Hagaon Harav Yaakov Chaim Sofer (a great sage who emigrated from Baghdad to Jerusalem in the previous generation) writes in his Sefer Kaf Ha’Chaim that just as we do not recite a blessing on freshly-baked bread, one should likewise not recite a blessing on the pleasant scent emanating from hot coffee, for the aroma is not that enjoyable that one would be obligated to recite a blessing on it.

On the other hand, most Acharonim, including the Perach Shoshan, Yad Aharon, and others, are of the opinion that one must recite a blessing on the pleasant smell emanating from coffee. They write that the correct blessing for this is “Ha’Noten Re’ach Tov Ba’Perot.”

After quoting the opinion of the Poskim who rule that one should recite a blessing on the pleasant scent emanating from coffee, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l concludes that if one recites a blessing on the pleasant smell emanating from coffee when one intends to specifically smell it indeed has on whom to rely, for this is the opinion of most Poskim. (ibid. page 329)

Summary: If one specifically intends to smell the wafting scent of pleasantly-smelling coffee, one has on whom to rely if one recites the blessing of “Ha’Noten Re’ach Tov Ba’Perot,” for this is the majority opinion among the Poskim.

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