Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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17 Adar I 5760 - February 23, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Gedolei Yisroel Warn Against Smoking

by S. Baruchi

Maranan verabonon the gedolei Yisroel warn everyone to take the mitzvah of safeguarding one's health seriously, especially in respect to cigarette smoking which has been unequivocally proven to have devastating effects on health. Maranan verabonon state that whoever can prevent himself and others from smoking, or can break the habit is obligated to do so. They add that one must absolutely abstain from smoking in public places.

The strong letter is signed by the pillar of halachic authority, HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv, as well as by HaRav Aharon Leib Steinman, HaRav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro, HaRav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz, HaRav Nissim Karelitz, and HaRav Shmuel Auerbach.

In an additional letter, HaRav Shmuel Halevi Wosner writes: "We must admonish the public about the tremendous dangers of cigarette smoking, since research has proven beyond a doubt that hundreds of thousands of people die prematurely because of cigarette smoking which, as is known, causes terrible disease in the lungs and heart." These findings are corroborated by doctors and experts throughout the world.

HaRav Wosner also warns against beginning to smoke in one's teens, and says: "According to the Torah, parents, teachers and educators are obligated to prevent their children from smoking. However, one who has already grown accustomed to this bad habit should make great efforts, for the sake of his future, to gradually stop smoking."

At the end of his letter, the av beis din of Zichron Meir speaks about the damage smoking causes to those in the smoker's vicinity: "It is forbidden to smoke in public places since doctors have discovered that the smoke is harmful. Many studies have recently appeared concerning the dangers of smoking. The most prominent doctors in Israel and the entire word have unequivocally determined that smoking impairs one's health and causes irrevocable damage to one's inner organs -- namely the heart and lungs -- and as a result, smoking is considered the number one cause of terrible diseases which are liable to be life-threatening. Medical statistics prove that smokers not only cause irrevocable damage to themselves, but also to those in their vicinity."

Doctors say that most smokers who come to them with serious illnesses say that they began smoking in their teens. Later, they were unable to stop, although they saw that it impaired their health, damaged their bodies and seriously harmed the health of their families and those in their nearby surroundings. As a result, it is vital to persuade teenagers not to begin smoking and to break the habit as soon as possible in order not to harm others too, as maranan the gedolei Yisroel exhort.

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