Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

24 Adar I 5760 - March 1, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Sponsored by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Produced and housed by

Letter from HaRav Shmuel Wosner About Smoking

Wednesday, parshas Bo, 5760 (4 Shevat, 5760 -- January 11, 2000)

People have asked me what is my humble opinion, daas Torah, about smoking cigars, cigarettes, and the like, which are well known to be exceptionally damaging to one's health. I will comply with their wish and answer in brief.

1) "The Chachomim have prohibited many things because they are life-endangering. Anyone who disobeys and says, `I am willing to endanger myself and it is no one else's affair what I do in these matters,' or `I am not careful about these matters,' is to be punished with makkos mardus" (Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Rotzei'ach, 11:5).

2) The Rambam includes in this issur various sorts of food and drink that are dangerous to life, as he enumerates in the cited perek (halochos 6-16). The Ritvo (on Shavuos 27a) writes that the Torah forbids eating food which damages one's health when it writes, "Only take heed to yourself and greatly beware for your nefesh" (Devorim 4:9).

3) After the Chasam Sofer (Chidushei Chasam Sofer, Avoda Zorah 30) cites the above-mentioned halocho of the Rambam's, he writes, "The duty of the Sages to see to it [that we do not endanger ourselves] is inferred, according to the gemora (Mo'ed Koton 5a) from the posuk `blood will be upon you' (Devorim 19:10). According to the gemora, if the Chachomim do not take care to eliminate the hazards listed in the gemora (and similar ones), and as a result a person's blood is spilt, the Torah considers the Chachomim as having spilt that blood.

4) We learn from the above that the Sages of today have the responsibility to warn the public about the enormous danger of smoking cigarettes and similar acts, which have been proven [dangerous] beyond doubt in extensive medical research, and because of which hundreds of thousands of people die prematurely. Likewise, medical reports from all over the world substantially confirm that smoking is a major cause of lung cancer, heart disorders, and many other diseases.

5) The halocho is therefore obvious. It is completely forbidden to begin smoking when one is an adolescent or when one is young. The Torah definitely requires parents, teachers, and educators to prevent young people from smoking.

6) Anyone who has already acquired this bad habit should make efforts to gradually wean himself from it, for the sake of his future and his [present] benefit.

7) One may not, cholila, smoke in public places, since research has shown that the smoke [when breathed in by others] damages others' health too.

8) Since this bad habit is tremendously damaging, those who publish advertisements in newspapers and other publications have a part in harming others.

9) In light of the grave matter written above, according to the Torah, anyone who can prevent himself from helping others smoke is obligated to do so.

May everyone who listens to what we have written enjoy a serene and secure life. May he merit long life by guarding his own life, that of his family, and that of those around him, according to the Torah's demands. He will be zoche to what the Torah promises: "I will put none of these diseases upon you, which I brought upon Egypt, for I am Hashem Who heals you" (Shemos 15:26). "For through Me your days shall be multiplied and the years of your life shall be increased" (Mishlei 9:11).

I sign for the benefit of our holy nation, awaiting Divine mercy.

(signed) Shmuel HaLevi Wosner

HaRav Wosner is rav and av beis din of Zichron Meir and rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin, Bnei Brak

All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.