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All Havdala Bsamamim boxes I have ever seen are in the shape of a tower.

Why (and when) did it take on that classical shape (rather than just a silver box)?

  • 2
    All? They come in all sorts of shapes. I myself use one shaped like a rose. – Alex Jan 12 '12 at 6:00
  • What about the once-common fish-shaped besamim box ? – Noach MiFrankfurt Jun 7 '18 at 22:21
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This article, by Rabbi Shubert Spero, says that the fashion started around the sixteenth century.

He suggests that a tower symbolizes strength and security, and so it fits well with Havdalah, in which we speak of Hashem as our source of security ("כי עזי וזמרת י-ה"), and also that it is associated with the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash and the coming of Eliyahu and Moshiach, a major theme of Motzaei Shabbos.

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Spices tended to be expensive. Expensive things were kept in a vault, often located in a high tower (if one owned a castle...). The day-to-day experience of Medieval Jews made those towers a natural model for b'samim.

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