Amongst the customs of havdalah, after Shabbat, is to make a blessing over pleasant smelling spices.
Smell is invisible and hence is considered the most spiritual of our senses – the most connected with the soul.
Shabbat is a day to remove ourselves from the busy work world and refocus our energies on what is really important – God, family, friends, community and quality of life. In order to help us refocus, Jewish tradition tells us that we are endowed with an ‘extra’ soul. But as that soul leaves after Shabbat, we are left feeling something of a spiritual vacuum.
The purpose of smelling spices, therefore, is to give our soul a spiritual boost to help ease our passage back into the busy material world we are about to re-enter.
As you smell these spices each week, try to focus for a moment: there are still so many Jewish people who are unable to appreciate the sweetness of their heritage and the spiritual uplift awaiting them in Jewish values and way of life.