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Rabbi Yoel LiebermanTevet 24, 5776
Shalom dear Rabbi, I wanted to ask for your opinion in general concerning the subject of wearing perfumes. I am especially concerned with the issues of tzniut and attractivity, and mostly concerning women wearing perfume. A perfume can make the person wearing it smell good (possibly also cover an unpleasant smell). There is also a use of perfume to be attractive to the other gender, sometimes in a sense of wanting to have a pleasant appearance, sometimes directly using certain perfumes to blatantly attract, in some cases even to the extent that the perfume itself seems to attract more than the person wearing it. It is maybe difficult to differentiate between the effect of a perfume in creating a pleasant appearance (perhaps this is also the issue that some clothing can be better fitting or suit a person better and maybe underscore a certain natural beauty of a person, and still attractivity is in the eye of the beholder and it may be easier for a man to find such a women attractive. In any case it would seem that it is impossible to completely differentiate between clothing as necessity and clothing having to do with a certain attractiveness, as any type of clothing, except the most unfavorable one may have some relation to attractivity.) (In practice it is also difficult to completely disregard the issue of scent, because of the widespread use of scented showering gels, and deodorants, which will at least alter the ’natural smell’ in some ways,even though this has become very widespread and it would seem unusual for a person today not to use those products) I also recall that in terms of using makeup it is not forbidden for a women to be beautiful (as long as the makeup is tzanua) There would also be a question if having a pleasant smell (of both women and men) with the help of perfume may actually be suitable for Shidduch meetings with a prospective match. On the other hand it would seem wrong to me if (especially a married) women would draw inappropriate attention from other men and in a sense draw mens’ attention to her by using too much of a perfume or certain types. I think I once read about an account in the Talmud where it is described that young women would put a kind of perfume on their sandals and purposefully disseminate this perfume in the market ’driving the young men wild’. It seems that certain perfume makers also purposefully include certain ingredients in the perfumes that should make the wearer more attractive to the other gender. I would appreciate to hear your general opinion concerning wearing perfume (for men and women). I am also wondering about the issue of smelling pleasant / being attractive and if this could be comparable to wearing certain types of clothing. I would also be happy to read sources Thank you very much in advance
ב"ה Shalom Being modest doesn't mean being unpresentable whether in dress or perfume, however it does mean that a woman should not flaunt herself and be flashy. Though, in regard to clothing the Shulchan Aruch gives general guidelines, there are no measurements in regard to perfume. The pasuk you quoted from the book of Yeshayahu speaks of a situation in which the women's sole purpose in their dress and walk was to entice men. So the measure of perfume should be to be presentable but not showy. All the best
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