Nana/Cloves: Which Berachot?

The Shulhan Aruch (Orah Haim 216:2) rules that the blessing over smelling cloves (and cinnamon for that matter) is “Hanoten Re’ah Tov Baperot” (lit. “He Who has given a good smell in fruit), as it considers the cloves to be the fruit of the clove tree. Interestingly, most Poskim do not follow this opinion. Rabbi Avraham Azoulay (gloss to Sefer HaLevush) appears to be perplexed as to the Shulhan Aruch’s opinion and writes that it is not even mentioned in the Bet Yosef. Furthermore, unlike cinnamon which is eaten as a spice and could somehow be considered a fruit, this is not the case for cloves. Rabbi Yehuda Ayash (Bet Yehuda, vol. 2, § 94) does point out that the Shulhan Aruch (Orah Haim 203:6) writes that when spices are ground down and eaten, one would recite “Bore Peri HaAdama”, and therefore since it has a fruit-like characteristic, one could recite “Henoten Re’ah Tov Baperot”.

Despite the Shulhan Aruch’s position, many Poskim such as Rabbi Haim Ben Attar (Hefetz Hashem), the Ben Ish Hai and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef rule that the blessing over cloves should actually be “Bore Atze Besamim”. Alternately, Rabbi Avraham Azoulay and his grandson, the HIDA (Birke Yosef, 216:5) rule that the blessing over cloves is “Bore Mine Besamim” because they are not commonly eaten as spices and since there is doubt in the matter, the more generic “Mine Besamim” should be recited. This is the Moroccan custom as is apparent in the writings of Rabbi Itzhak Ben Oualid, Yosef Messas (Mayim Haim, vol. 1, § 44) and in the Siddur Bet Menuha (pg. 224).

Regarding mint (“Nana”), Rabbi Yehuda Ashkenazi (Baer Hetev) quotes Rabbi Avraham HaKohen (Ginat Veradim, vol. I, § 41), who says that mint is not something that is commonly smelled and therefore no blessing should be recited. On the other hand Rabbi Ya’akov Hagiz of Fes, Morocco (Hilchot Ketanot, vol. II.,  § 15) explains that mint is considered a fruit and thus one should recite “Hanoten Re’ah Tov Baperot”. Notwithstanding, the HIDA (Birke Yosef, 216:2) quoting the Shibole HaLeket, says that the mint is an herb and therefore one should recite “Bore Isbe Besamim” when smelling it. Rabbi David Ovadia (Venatan David, § 5) and Rabbi Yosef Messas (Mayim Haim, vol.I,  § 53) confirm that this is the Moroccan custom.

Summary:  The blessing when smelling cloves is “Bore Mine Besamim”. The blessing when smelling Nana mint is “Bore Isbe Besamim”.


      beracha on cloves