Sunday, March 27, 2011



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by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

     There is a major problem in the world today, and it reaches the religious world, too--big time. It destroys more lives than all of the world’s terrorists and car accidents combined, yet it is totally legal in both the secular world, and for the most part, in the religious world, too. SMOKING!

     A recent study of 80,000 women found that women who grew up in houses where someone smoked, even though they themselves did not smoke, had 30% more breast cancer than women who grew up in smoke-free houses.

     How can anyone in the world, especially in the Jewish world, allow such a thing? This is outright damaging another person. It is forbidden to damage ourselves, let alone someone else.

     This year, an estimated 180,000 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer in the United States, and 90% of them will die within three years--and 96% of these cancer victims are cigarette smokers.

     The Torah forbids a person to climb on a shaky ladder. No one in the world would question the logic of this rule. Yet, getting on a weak ladder is a lot safer than smoking a cigarette. Doctors used to believe that it took a lot of exposure to smoke before the damage would begin. Now they have found that the damage begins from the very first exposure to tobacco smoke.

     When a smoker goes home and kisses his children, the cancer-causing poisons are on his lips…. They reek from his clothing, his hair. This is what he is giving to his family members. Not only is he shortening his life, he is shortening theirs, too!

     I have seen many people quit for a month or two, or even longer, and then go back to that evil habit. After five days, the addicting chemical poisons have entirely left the body. From then on, the only draw to smoke is psychological. Why cut ten years off of your life, the best years too, by giving in to this addiction? G-d made Adam (man) and He put him in charge of the adamah (earth and plants). Smokers’ addictions make the plant in charge of the man.

     The statistics are horrible regarding the many different types of diseases that are caused by smoking, yet the vast majority of rabbis are reluctant to forbid it. Why don’t they openly forbid this horrible evil? It seems that they are concerned that the addiction to smoking is so strong, that even if they do forbid it, the addicted people will not give it up. And, once the door to rebellion is opened, Jews will rebel against other rulings, too. So, instead of coming out and forcefully and forbidding it, they say, “G-d will help the fools.”

      A few years ago a very well-respected, learned rabbi stopped me on the street. He said, “I want to tell you a story. Thirteen years ago, you spoke to me very harshly.”

     I thought, “Uh, oh! I blew it again… me and my big mouth!”

     He went on, “You yelled at me for smoking. For some reason it got into my head. I listened. I quit smoking. One year later, I was taken to the hospital for open-heart surgery. The doctor told me that this happened to me because I smoked. I haven’t smoked since you yelled at me. I want to thank you for saving my life.” 

     My opinion on the matter: You have to be a shoteh (fool) to inhale that stuff, and a rasha (evil person) to exhale it.



  2. If I recall correctly, Rav Kaiminevsky forbids it. The modern Orthodox RCA in the US, to their credit, also issued a document forbidding it. Rav Moshe Feinstein ZT"L, to who's psak you are apparently referring to, since he is the one who quoted the pasuk the "fools are protected" in his psak on the matter, wrote this psak in the early 1960s.

    Nowadays it is clear that smoking is medically harmful, and many Rabbonim said if he had issued a psak on the matter today, he would have forbidden it.

    - a former (going on over 10 years now) smoker.


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