Brachot on a Nice Smell

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  1. The Ashkenaz minhag is to make Boreh Mini Besamim (בורא מיני בשמים) which is the general Bracha for nice smells at Havdalavah no matter what’s being used for besamim. However, according to Sephardim, one should make the appropriate Bracha for that besamim. [1]
  2. The rest of the week there’s no argument that there’s a distinction between the following categories:

Boreh Atzei Besamim

  1. For tree products the Bracha is Boreh Atzei Besamim. Halacha includes any plant (above ground) that has a hard stalk, has leaves, and lasts from year to year. [2]
  2. Examples of tree products that require Atzei Besamim: Rose, Rosemary, Jasmine, Hadas (myrtle; not on Sukkot), honeysuckle (yellow and white flowery vine) [3]

Boreh Isbei Besamim

  1. For shrub products the Bracha is Boreh Isbei Besamim. Halacha includes any plant that has a soft stalk or doesn’t last from year to year. [4]
  2. Examples of shrub products that require Boreh Isbei Besamim: mint, hyacinth, daffodil (certain types). [5]

HaNoten Rayach Tov BaPerot

  1. For edible fruits that give off a strong smell (from the fruit and not from the peel) the Bracha required is HaNoten Rayach Tov BaPerot. The major limitation of this category is that one should only make the Bracha for a strong smell and only if the fruit is taken to smell and not to eat. [6]
  2. Examples: Etrog (not on Sukkot), quince, apple, melon [7]

Boreh Mini Besamim

  1. The general Bracha for nice smells is Boreh Mini Besamim and is made for non-plant or fruit products, or for items for which there’s an unresolved dispute in the poskim. [8]
  2. Examples: cinnamon, cloves (common for havdalah), lemon, hot ground coffee beans (taken to smell), mixture of tree and shrub products. [9]
  3. For synthetic smells, as is common in cheap perfumes, some say that the Bracha is Boreh Mini Besamim and some say that there’s no Bracha on such a smell. [10]

After the fact

  1. There’s a dispute whether Bracha of Shehakol covers any Bracha for a nice smell and because of the dispute, after the fact, one may not make another Bracha. [11]
  2. The Bracha of Atzi doesn’t cover the products that require Isbei. [12]

If one’s in doubt

  1. If you have a plant which has a nice smell but you personally are in doubt as to whether the Bracha is Atzei or Isbei, if it’s easy to find out the correct Bracha, one should do so, otherwise, one may make Boreh Mini Besamim. (This is different than foods where there’s an obligation to figure out the appropriate halacha instead of making Shehakol.) [13]
  2. If one is unsure whether a product has a nice or strong smell, one may smell it to check, make the Bracha, and then make the Bracha. [14]

No Bracha

  1. Certain items have no Bracha including: tavak [15]
  2. No Bracha is made on a smell that was absorbed or rubbed off a nice smelling product, but now there’s no substance of the Basamim existent. Example: perfume bottle, etrog box, tea leaves. [16]
  3. No Bracha is made of a nice smelling product that was used to remove a bad smell. Example: air freshener in a bathroom. [17]

List of Brachot

Item Ashkenazim (Vezot HaBracha, Luach Brachot) Sephardim (Birkat Hashem vol 3)
Air freshener (if taken to smell) No Bracha Mini Besamim
Black pepper Questionable [18] Mini Besamim [19]
Cinnamon Mini Besamim Mini Besamim
Cloves Mini Besamim Atzei Besamim
Daffodil Isbei Besamim Mini Besamim
Deodorant Dispute Mini Besamim
Etrog HaNoten Rayach Tov BeParot HaNoten Rayach Tov BeParot
Ground coffee beans Mini Besamim No Bracha
Hadas (myrtle) Atzei Besamim Atzei Besamim
Honeysuckle Atzei Besamim -
Hyacinth Isbei Besamim -
Jasmine Atzei Besamim -
Lemon Mini Besamim Mini Besamim
Melon HaNoten Rayach Tov BeParot -
Mint Isbei Besamim Isbei Besamim
Orange - Mini Besamim
Quince HaNoten Rayach Tov BeParot -
Rose Atzei Besamim Atzei Besamim
Rosemary Atzei Besamim -
Tavak No Bracha No Bracha
Zatar - Mini Besamim


  1. Mishna Brurah 297:1, Vezot HaBracha (pg 181, chapter 19)
  2. Vezot HaBracha (pg 174, chapter 19)
  3. Vezot HaBracha (pg 174, chapter 19)
  4. Vezot HaBracha (pg 174, chapter 19)
  5. Vezot HaBracha (pg 174, chapter 19)
  6. Vezot HaBracha (pg 175, chapter 19)
  7. Vezot HaBracha (pg 175, chapter 19)
  8. Vezot HaBracha (pg 175-7, chapter 19)
  9. Vezot HaBracha (pg 397, Luach Brachot)
  10. Vezot HaBracha (pg 182, chapter 19) quotes a dispute between Rav Pinchas Sheinburg who says that synthetic products have a Bracha, and Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach who holds that no Bracha is made.
  11. Vezot HaBracha (pg 176, chapter 19)
  12. Mishna Brurah 216:39, Vezot HaBracha (pg 176, chapter 19)
  13. Vezot HaBracha (pg 176, chapter 19)
  14. Vezot HaBracha (pg 180, chapter 19), Halachically Speaking quoting Ben Ish Chai (VeEtchanan#2).
  15. Vezot HaBracha (pg 397, Luach Brachot)
  16. Vezot HaBracha (pg 180, chapter 19)
  17. Vezot HaBracha (pg 179, chapter 19)
  18. The Mishna Brurah 297:1 rules that since there is a dispute among the poskim (whether one should make any bracha on it) one shouldn't make a bracha on it. The Vezot HaBracha (pg 179) agrees and adds that due to this dispute one should refrain from smelling it.
  19. Kaf HaChaim 297:5, Rav Moshe HaLevi (Menuchat Ahava (vol 1 9:24) and Birkat Hashem (vol 3, 12:17), Ish Matzliach (commentary on Mishna Brurah 297:1)