Friday, October 08, 2010

The Minhag of Smelling Spices and Hadasim on Erev Shabbos

Excerpt from Law and Custom in Hasidism:

There were tzadikim who had the custom of reciting blessings on smelling spices and hadasim (myrtle leaves) before they made kiddush on Friday night. The source of this custom is in the Talmud (Shabbos 118b), which relates the story of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai who saw an old man running with two myrtle twigs. Rabbi Shimon asked him, "What is the purpose of these?" The man replied, "In honor of Shabbos."

"Wouldn't one be enough?" The man answered, "One represents zachor and the other represents shamor." (In the first listing of the Ten Commandements, in Yisro, the Torah states, "Remember -zachor - Shabbos to keep it holy," while in the second listing, in Va'eschanan, it states, "Observe - shamor - Shabbos to keep it holy.") The kabbalists regard this minhag as being a very important one, based on Kabbalah (Chemdas HaYamim I:41c).


At October 8, 2010 at 10:49:00 AM EDT, Blogger Netzer Chosid said...


I enjoy the post. I've recently begun to practice this at my Shabbos table. I think of all the minhagim for Erev Shabbos, apart from my Kiddush, this really drives the point home for my family--Shabbos is me'ein olam habo!On the first night I even created a mashal that likened our spices to those in Gan Eden. The family loved it.

At October 8, 2010 at 10:55:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

I am glad you liked the post. I just start this practice at my Shabbos table as well.

At October 8, 2010 at 11:43:00 AM EDT, Blogger ekusnetz said...

This is a minhag of Bostoner chassidim. I've seen some use fresh hadassim and flowers +/- bisamim from a silver container.

At October 8, 2010 at 11:45:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Interesting. I found a braided holder when I was in Boro Park that I now use.

At October 8, 2010 at 5:22:00 PM EDT, Blogger Shmuel said...

There's also the aspect of striving to make 100 blessings on Shabbos Kodesh, which is another reason why we have this special custom.

Thus, many people (especially in the Holy Land) take two different types of plants (i.e. Hadassim and mint leaves when they are still attached to their respective branches) and make a "Borei Atzei Besamim" (on the Hadassim) and a "Borei Isvei Besamim" on the (mint leaves). Once they are removed from the wood, they have the regular "borei minei besamim".

Have a wonderful Shabbos!

At September 6, 2011 at 6:20:00 PM EDT, Blogger sofer said...

thanks for your posting. I llooked up the shabbos listing 118b and could not find it at all. are you sure it is there? yochnan nathan .

At January 31, 2013 at 10:27:00 PM EST, Anonymous Zevvy G said...

Try Shabbos 33


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