Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Nose Knows

In yesterday's daf, 43b, discusses the blessing we make on aromas. The proof for the necessity of making a berakhah on aromas comes from kol haneshamah tehalel kah, every soul shall praise God. R. Zutra's proof from this verse is: what is something that soul but not the body derives benefit from? We must say that it refers to the sense of smell. This proof assumes that the sense of smell connects to the soul more than any of the other five senses.
I was bothered by why the sense of smell should be considered any less physical than the other senses. Even if the nose does not perceive anything tangible, I was still perplexed as to why an aroma should be considered any less physical than soundwaves, which are also intangible.
I was thinking that the difference might lie in how difficult it is to create aroma vs. sound. Sound can be created through mere speech. Sound can therefore be converted more easily than smell. It is easier to change the sound that one makes than to change one's odor. The smell of an object reflects more about the inherent nature of something than the sound it makes. Therefore, we can say that smelling something connects someone to its intangible essence, which can therefore only be done by the soul.
This might also be expressed in the continuation of the sugeya, which says that in the future the young men of Israel will smell like the Lebanon forest, suggesting that their pleasant smell will reflect their beautiful natures.
Unfortunately, I don't have Maharal's Hiddushei Aggadah in the house, so I can't check to see if the Maharal says anything like this. If anyone can check that would be great.
Any alternative readings of these passages would be appreciated.

3 Comments:

At Thursday, 14 April, 2005, Anonymous mivami said...

first, why is maharal a standard? you could just as easily look to maharasha, yehoyada or any of the commentaries on ein yaakov or r kook for that matter? just a question re your biases.

second, im not even sure that we have maharal's hidushe agadot on berakhot
but otherwise, good post

 
At Thursday, 14 April, 2005, Blogger DKP said...

From my limited knowledge of Maharal's writings, he uses similar lines of thought in explaining Aggadot. I was just curious if he had a similar explanation to what I thought. Of course I'm interested in other commentaries also.

 
At Sunday, 17 April, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

doctor,
look at the bnai yissascher in the beginning of hodesh adar (and other places he cites) for a greater biur of this inyan.
Solya

 

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