[The Ari says, “In the evening at the time Shabbat departs when you say “Havdala” and the blessing on the smell of a fragrant tree, take 3 branches of myrtle/hadas and bind them together as one and meditate that the 3 hadasim represent the three levels of your nefesh, ruach, and neshama and intend that the extra power that each received on Shabbat should stay with you, and this is done by smelling the three hadas branches. ("Gate of Meditations", page 60)]

While they [Rabbi Elazar and his friends] were walking, they met a man with three branches of myrtle in his hand. They approached him and said to him: Why do you need these? He said: To receive the lost one [i.e. the three levels of the additional soul which dwells in every Jew that observes Shabbat, leave after Shabbat and thus are "lost" to man; smelling the myrtle gives the soul comfort and restores a sense of well being]. Rabbi Elazar said: You have explained this beautifully, but why three? He said to him: One for Abraham, one for Isaac, and one for Jacob [the myrtle's three-fold leaves, as well as 3 branches, relate to chesed, gevura and tiferet]. I bind them together [corresponding to the 3 soul levels: nefesh, ruach, and neshama] and smell them as it says: "Your oils are fragrant; for your flowing oil you are renowned" (Song of Songs 1:3) for this fragrance strengthens the weakness of the Nefesh [weakened by the departing of the extra lights received on Shabbat], and with this faith, blessings are sustained and drawn from Above to below.

Rabbi Elazar said, 'Happy is the portion of Israel in this world and in the next.'

Come and see: the world is sustained by fragrance alone. [The Arizal explains that smell represents the aspect of the 5 gevurot (one each from the sefirot of chesed, gevura, tiferet, netzach and hod) that spread out in the lower worlds and return to be sweetened in their source in the secret of smell. When the gevurot gather together and rise up as smell through the nostrils they go up directly to the brain, specifically to daat where the crown of the 5 gevurot is. There they are sweetened as daat is relaxed by the sweet smell. If this mechanism for sweetening the harsh gevurot was not in place the world would be too harsh to endure. ("Gate of Meditation", pg 72)] From this fragrance [that one smells when Shabbat leaves] another fragrance is revealed. When Shabbat leaves, the bundle comes apart [the additional light leaves the nefesh and ruach1], and man's [remaining] nefesh and ruach remain isolated and sad. This fragrance [the sweet smelling crushed leaves of the hadas] comes and they [nefesh and ruach] are brought close to one another and they rejoice. Because of this a person should breath in the fragrance several times to ensure he breathes in the full fragrance. When the full fragrance has been received [at least one smelling for the nefesh and one for the ruach soul-levels] the soul levels are brought closer together and delight together.

It is the same with the smell of the sacrifice [as the text says: “an offering….a sweet savor to G‑d. (Lev. 1:9)] Through this smell, everything draws together and all the lamps are set aflame and rejoice.

Come and see: There are two lamps that burn for each person], one Above [in the spiritual dimension] and one below [in the physical world]. When man lights the lamp below, smoke from the lower lamp rises and kindles the upper lamp. So it is with the smoke from the offering. The smoke rises and lights the supernal lamps [i.e. the sefirot are made to shine]. They are lit together, and all draw near through this smell, since it is a sweet savor to G‑d. This has already been explained [for true pleasure is caused by drawing together the seemingly unconnected and revealing their source in the One].

The smell of the sacrifice therefore sustains everything and sustains the world, and the sacrifice is through the priest, who [corresponds to chesed and] draws everything together. For this reason, the seven days of consecration [corresponding to the 7 sefirot] are completed by him, so that everyone will be blessed by his service and joy and blessings will abide Above and below.

It is written: "L-rd, You are my G‑d; I will exalt You, I will praise Your Name; for You have done wonderful things - counsels of old in faithfulness and truth" (Isaiah 25:1). This verse has been explained. "L-rd, you are My G‑d," [hinting to drawing down bounty] that man should give thanks to the Holy Name [Havayah, representing Zeir Anpin] and praise Him for everything [for all the goodness He favors us with and intend to draw down to Him the flow from the lights of consciousness of Arich Anpin (keter) and Abba and Imma (chochma and bina)]. Where is His praise drawn from [i.e. from which higher partzuf is His praise/improvement/higher consciousness drawn down from]? It has been explained that it [His praise] comes from the deepest of all [the level of Arich Anpin/keter, called "wonder", for the deepest changes in reality are caused by the highest level of the Divine], as written: "For You have done wonderful things."" Wonderful things " as in the verse "and His Name is called pele [meaning wonder]" (Isaiah 9:5). As we have already learned, "counsels from far away": "Counsels," [represents bina because Zeir Anpin and Nukva are guided by her advice] and "from afar" [represents chochma] resembles the words, "G‑d appeared to me from far away" (Jeremiah 31:2) [chochma appeared and was revealed to me]. "She brings her food from afar" (Proverbs 31:14) [chochma through the path of bina brings malchut the flow of bounty].

"In faithfulness and devotion " [Shechinah/malchut], as in the verse: "G‑d of faithfulness and without iniquity". (Deut. 32:4) It was explained that faith is at night [malchut is seen also at night], as written, "And Your faithfulness every night," (Psalms 92:2) and, "They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness..." (Lamentations 3:23) [the renewal comes from malchut]. G‑d will purify Israel from their sins, as written: "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness and from all your idols will I cleanse you." (Ezekiel 36:25) [Then death will be swallowed up forever and all Israel will serve G‑d with a pure and complete heart , may it happen soon in our days! Amen!]

May G‑d be blessed forever. Amen and amen.

BeRahamim LeHayyim: What does the above mean to you, and why is it revealed now?

Here we find the secrets of smelling pleasant fragrances after Shabbat. Some have incorporated this ritual too at every Shabbat meal to elevate one's inner senses a bit. This is mentioned in the Talmud (Shabbat 33) concerning Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and his son who leave their cave the second time and see a man with 2 branches of myrtle—one for Zachor and one for Shamor--and they are pacified that there are those in this world that respect Shabbat.2

The power of the smell of fresh myrtle cannot be duplicated. Rabbi Ovadayiah Yosef has ruled that one may crush dried myrtle to smell on Shabbat. This is stronger than even fresh, and can rocket one to the highest of the high.

[Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries]