For the week ending 24 March 2012 / 29 Adar I 5772

Going Down in Smoke

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Question: In view of the wide range of medical opinion that cigarette smoke is dangerous to health, is it proper to tell a smoker that you object to his smoking in your presence and to even suggest that he stop smoking altogether?

Answer: In his new 151-page book entitled "Life without Smoking According to the Torah", Rabbi Yechezkel Ischayek cites a ruling by the late great halachic authority Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, zatzal, that smokers who expose others to their smoke must compensate them financially for the damage they cause and equates the mitzvah of saving people from smoking to that of redeeming Jewish captives.

Although the authors position is clearly that smoking is a violation of halacha, none of the halachic authorities he quotes in his book go that far. They do say that it is wrong to start but as for one already into the habit, all they do is urge him to quit. There are, however, other prominent rabbis not quoted in the book who have gone on record as condemning smoking as "slow suicide" and even suggesting that they are guilty of a sin deserving of lashes.

So go right ahead and tell him to stop smoking!

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