Jewish tradition and aromatherapy freshen the way for your family.
oon after setting out into
the desert, leading the
Jewish people on their exo-
dus from Egypt, Moses
received a commandment that would
no doubt appeal to modern-day
advocates of aromatherapy.
At hand: the power of fragrance.
Moses, God said, was to create a
holy oil, made of "pure myrrh ... and
of sweet cinnamon ... and of sweet
calamus ... and of olive oil." This was
to be used only for consecrating
Aaron and his sons, making them
priests from that day forward.
The fragrance was a rare and spe-
cial blend whose true. ingredients can
only be guessed at today; most schol-
ars doubt that the myrrh of ancient
days is the myrrh we know now
What is clear: Scent can be holy. It
can elevate us, it can revive us, it can
refreshen and renew us. Perfume,
Ecclesiastes 10:1 and Proverbs 27:9
say, "rejoices the heart" and is the "oil
Today, health-food stores are filled
with natural oils and remedies that
promise to help cure everything
from backache to heartache. For a
price, you can hire your own aro-
matherapy "practitioner," who will
prescribe a scent to help you relieve
stress or find more self-confidence.
It all seems so new-age, but
ancient Jewish texts are actually
filled with insight on the uses of
fragrance — including for your
Note: Before trying these, or any
other holistic/aromatherapy formu-
las, consult your physician.
The first step is to learn the
proper way to use the oils them-
In The Bath: Add a few drops of
essential oils as you're running
water for a relaxing bath.
Usually, up to 5 drops of essen-
tial oil is appropriate for children
aged 2-5, about 10 for children
over 5. Essential oil baths are not
recommended for babies.
- Be sure to start with a small
amount when first using the oils to
make certain your children do not
experience any skin irritation.
Essential oils will not diffuse in
water, so you will notice little
droplets floating. Just mix them in
the water to blend as much as possi-
As A Room Freshener. Combine
essential oil with water and use in a
In Massage. With sweet almond oil
as your base, add a few drops of
essential oil to make a pleasant mas-
sage lotion. Start with a drop or two
of essential oil to be certain your
child has no averse reactions.
Candles And Beyond: Look for can-
dles in your favorite scent, or dif-
fusers and scent rings (available at
candle and health-food stores).
Steaming. Place a bowl of steaming
water (far from the bed, of course) in
a child's or baby's room. Add a drop
or two of essential oil to the water.
On A Cloth: Years ago, women
scented their handkerchiefs with their
favorite perfume. They would carry
this around with them all day, help-
ing them smell sweet from morning
After testing fabric (essential oils
can stain), try keeping your favorite
aroma with you all day by placing a
few dots on a handkerchief.
Go To The Store. If all else fails, see
what's already out there.
Johnson & Johnson makes a laven-
der bath for baby you may want to
Jewish texts, including the Torah
itself, are filled with references to fra-
grances, many of which are today rec-
ommended for use with children.
The following fragrances all have a
Jewish connection and are generally
recognized as safe for children.
The Jewish Angle: Fragrant roses came
to Israel from Persia (though two
species of rose grows wild in Israel,
neither of these has a pleasant scent).
Its Persian name was varda, which
accounts for its Hebrew name, vered.
Though the Torah does not men-
tion the rose, many Jewish texts do
cite it, especially rabbinic literature
where youth is said to be "like a
crown of roses," and where one rabbi
was said to be like a crown of red
roses atop a silver cup of pomegran-
Some Jewish literature recommends
the use of rosewater for medicinal
purposes, while ancient Jews were
known to have dined on rose jam.
When To Use: Aromatherapists
advocate rose oil for a number of
skin problems, including wrinkles,
eczema and puffiness. Smelling rose
is said to help overcome sadness and
depression, help with low self-esteem
and open a closed heart.
Rose has been used in perfumes for
thousands of years, and the most
expensive rose oil is from the
Bulgarian rose otto, grown only with-
in 240 square miles. It takes 30 roses
to make a mere one drop of
Bulgarian rose otto.
The Jewish .Angle: Rabbinic writings
discuss the use of lavender both as a
perfume and as a medicine.
When To Use Lavender is believed.
to sooth burns and other wounds. It
may help with scarring and skin trou-
bles in general, including acne and
Some have found lavender to be
useful in combating sinus problems
and other respiratory concerns, for
colic, high-blood pressure and ring-
Among parents,•lavender is best
known as a soothing scent. Children
who have a difficult time sleeping
may benefit from a compress or dif-
fuser with a drop of lavender oil.
Moms, note: lavender also may help
with nervous exhaustion.
The Jewish Angle: For thousands of
years, Jews have extracted the oil
from mint leaves to use as a spice. In
the Mishnah, this oil is called minta,
and in the Jerusalem Talmud it is
Today, four species of mint grow
wild in Israel, and tea with na'ana
(also the Arabic name for mint) is
one of the most popular drinks in
When To Use Mint is probably