Wednesday, parshas Bo, 5760 (4 Shevat, 5760 -- January
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"
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
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
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
(signed) Shmuel HaLevi Wosner
HaRav Wosner is rav and av beis din of Zichron Meir
and rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin, Bnei