Scent and the Spirit
to bring joy to the heart, or “Simkha” in Hebrew.
Natural fragrances are preferred to synthetic ones as
it is perceived to create a purer experience.
Blessings Over Fragrances
A unique practice in Judaism involves the recitation of blessings over fragrances, especially during
the Havdalla ceremony. There are special blessings
over flowers, herbs, spices and fruits.
“Barukh ata Adonoy Eloheinu melekh ha olam,
borei minei vishamim” (“Blessed are you oh
God, king of the universe, who creates spices of
fragrance”) is a blessing over spices and over miscellaneous fragrances.
Known to evoke spiritual qualities and feelings
and reminding mankind of its creator, fragrance in
Jewish wisdom can be summed up with the words of
the Talmud: “What is it that provides enjoyment for
Both ancient faiths embody universal, core prin-
ciples like devotion, compassion and righteousness;
fragrance acts as the sublime mirror, reflecting these
principles during acts of worship, and reminding the
worshippers of their presence within—bringing them
closer to their divine source.
Like it is with light, sound and color, there is the
inexplicable mysticism about fragrance. Whether
it is the deeply calming and meditative loban that
envelopes Zoroastrian homes at sunset, or the
tangy and tantalizing aroma of spice blends that
enliven the devout Jew at the end of every Shabbat,
fragrances are an extension of the soul, reaching
out to its creator through each rising whiff.
“What is it that provides
enjoyment for the soul
and not for the body?
Pictured here is Anjuman Na Atash Behraam, the ancient Zoroastrian fire temple, located in Mumbai.