Smelling Spices on Yom Kippur

Smelling spices on Yom Kippur:[1]

It is permitted to smell spices on Yom Kippur.[2] Furthermore, it is praiseworthy to do so in order to accumulate the 100 obligatory daily blessings.[3]


May one place scented oil onto a tissue for smelling?[4]

No, due to the prohibition of Molid Reiach.

May one place smelling oil on one’s hand or finger?

This is forbidden to be done due to the prohibition of Molid Reich.[5] Furthermore, even according to those Poskim[6] who rule that the prohibition of Molid Reich does not apply to the body, nevertheless seemingly this would remain forbidden due to the anointing prohibition.

How often is a blessing said when smelling spices?[7]

Once a blessing has been recited over a spice, another blessing can only be said on that same spice if one had decided to no longer smell the spice, and later changed his mind. If however one intends to continuously smell it, then this second smelling remains included in the blessing originally recited, and does not require a new blessing to be said. This applies even if he left the room and then returned, unless there was a great Hefsek in between.

Is a blessing recited over scented oils or Tabak?

A. Essential oils-Oil which has natural good scent:[8]

Oil of a product which naturally carries a good scent [not an additive, such as 100% clove oil], is to be blessed on in accordance to the source of the scent, whether Atzei or Isvei Besamim. These oils are known as essential oils.


B. Oil or any other liquid[9] which had a good scent added to it:

If the source of the smell is still in the oil:[10] Then one says the blessing of its source of smell, whether Atzei or Isvei.

If the source of the smell has been filtered out:[11] Then one is to say the blessing of Minei Besamim.

C. May a blessing be said over chemically made scented liquids?

A blessing is not said over such scents.[12] However, some Poskim[13] rule that a blessing may be said.


[1] Admur 612/7; M”B 216/32 brings that it is customary for people to smell spirits on Yom Kippur.

[2] The reason: As there is no bodily pleasure involved in smelling spices and it is rather the pleasure of the soul alone. [Admur ibid]

[3] The 100 blessings said on Yom Kippur: On Yom Kippur [which lacks approximately 35 of the normally recited blessings], being that one cannot make up the blessings with food, one needs to make them up by smelling spices, while the remaining blessings missing are made up by listening intently to the blessings of the Chazans repetition of the Amidah [and of the Torah reading]. Once a blessing has been recited over a spice, another blessing can only be said on that same spice if one had decided to no longer smell the spice. Otherwise, his second smelling is still included in the blessing originally recited, and thus does not required a blessing to be said.

[4] Admur 511/7 and 321/7; Rama 511/4; Beitza 23a

[5] Admur 511/7 and 321/7; Rama 511/4; Beitza 23a

[6] Chacham Tzevi 92 brought in Beir Heiytiv 511/7; Elya Raba 128/8; Ginas Veradim 3/16; Nechpah Bakesef 4; Shaareiy Teshuvah 511/4; Mishneh Berurah 128/23 and so is implied from 511/28;

[7] See Ketzos Hashulchan 62 footnote 19; Peri Megadim 218 M”Z who mentions a dispute regarding one who left the room if this is considered Hesech Hadaas; Piskeiy Teshuvos 217/3

[8] Seder 12/2 and 6

Other opinions: According to Michaber 216/4-5, one is to say Borei Shemen Heareiv. [See M”B 23 and Shaar Hatziyon 25]

[9] M”B 216/26 rules that other liquids have the same status as does oil in this regard.

[10] Seder 12/6; Michaber 216/6

[11] Simple understanding of Seder 12/6; M”B 216/32 “One may rely on those Achronim who allow a blessing [of Borei Minei Besamim…] to be said.”

Other Opinions: Some Poskim rule that a blessing is not to be said over it, and so concludes the Michaber due to Safek Brachos Lihakel. Furthermore, even according to the opinion that a blessing is to be said, the blessing is Borei Shemen Areiv. [Michaber 216/6]

Opinion of Ketzos Hashulchan: Ketzos Hashulchan [62 footnote 12] leaves in question as to whether Admur means to rule like we wrote above or that one is not to at all say a blessing over the oil, and is rather to say a blessing over another smell. [Vetzaruch Iyun on his doubt, as it seems pretty clear from the wording of Admur that he is simply coming to exclude the opinion that a more particular blessing than that of Minei Besamim is to be said, and hence he concludes that one is to suspect for their opinion and say the less stringent blessing!]

[12] Rav SZ”A brought in SSH”K 61 footnote 32

[13] Or Letziyon 2/14-38

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