Smells, and Other Signs of Love


 believe that there has been an evolutionary decline in the human sense of smell. Perhaps it was more potent back when people were hunters and gatherers–but these days, our olfactory sense is good for little more than smelling hot dinner and old socks.

In Judaism, however, smell is a holy experience. “What is something that the soul enjoys but not the body?” asks the Talmud (Berahot 43b). “It is scent.” There’s a general blessing to say whenever smelling a pleasant natural odor–

Barukh atah Ado-nai, Elohay-nu melekh ha-olam, boray minay bisamim.

Blessed are You, Ruler of the universe, who created all types of smells.

Another blessing, boray isvay bisamim is said whenever smelling the product of a fragrant tree, and ha-noten rayah tov ba-perot ends the blessing over the pleasant scent of fruit.

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