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Bracha on Perfume

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Rabbi Jonathan Blass

20 Sivan 5763
Question
Do you make a Bracha on Perfume or Cologne, particularly if they contain natural ingredients?
Answer
Theoretically one should make a bracha on enjoying the fragrance of perfume. Practically, the occasions on which this is done are rare (Shulchan Aruch Orach CHayyim 217 2-4 and Mishna Berura and Beiur Halacha there). The reasons for this are that one makes a bracha on fragrances only when the source of the fragrance is visibly present- in other words, someone who splashed cologne on his skin could only make a bracha on the cologne while smelling an open bottle, not on the fragrance wafting from his skin. Even were it in a bottle, he wouldn't make a bracha on a fragrance whose purpose (as in most cases of men's fragrances) is to cover over body odor. In nearly all instances a man would not make a bracha on perfume that belongs to a woman even when the purpose of the perfume is not to cover over body odor and even when the perfume is still in the bottle, because a man should not be enjoying the fragrance worn by a woman with whom he is not allowed to be intimate. If, however, he is enjoying fragrances from open bottles in a store, a bracha should be made. A woman should make a bracha on a fragrance not used for covering perspiration odor, if she smells it from an open bottle (not after it is aerosoled onto her wrist).
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