A Reader Writes: Up in Smoke


smokingDear Editor,

I am not the first to write about the following issue, but I am writing from a different perspective. This issue bothers me, as well as many other Yidden. I hope, be’ezras Hashem,that this letter will result in a positive change.

Please, fellow bochurim, I beg of you – the future of Klal Yisroel – not to smoke. If you have already succumbed to the habit, please stop. A number of gedolei Yisroel have proclaimed that there is no heter whatsoever to smoke. If you quit, you will be fulfilling a chiyuv De’oraisa of “zikeinechah viyomru lach.”

There can be so much more Torah learned with the time spent smoking. The money that goes towards cigarettes can be used for the countless poor people in Klal Yisroel.

A distinguished talmid chochom said, “All smokers will be held accountable when they’re missing minyan and Torah because of the sicknesses they brought upon themselves.” Don’t shrug these words off.

I am not writing this for me. I am writing this as one of you. It is my hope that it will possibly help. I doubt your rabbeim want you to smoke. I suspect that your parents are not fond of smoking either. I am pleading with you. When a person actually faces a nisayon is the best time to do teshuvah (Koheles). One who says “Echteh v’ashuv” (I will sin and I will repent) will not do teshuvah (Yoma). So, please quit smoking. There is no better time than now. Hillel tells us in Avos, “V’im lo achshav, eimasai – And if not now, when?” As you know, we pasken like Hillel.

The Mashgiach of the Radin Yeshiva stated in a shmuess with a clear voice, “There is nothing in the Torah that is a reshus (optional)! You are either obligated or forbidden to do so, as the posuk (Devorim 6:18) says, ‘V’asissa hayoshor v’hatov.'”

Please, this letter is not being written with anger. It is written with sadness and pain. The smoked-cigarettes on the ground are a busha to us. It is not kavod for Hashem’s palace.

How will it feel when you leave your wife an almana and children yesomim, while they know it was your own fault? How will it feel to come to Shomayim at sixty-five years old when everyone there will see that you brought your demise upon yourself?

I wish you hatzlacha.

A Fellow Yeshiva Bochur


  1. ‘There is no better time than now. Hillel tells us in Avos, “V’im lo achshav, eimasai – And if not now, when?” As you know, we pasken like Hillel.’
    good letter. but I must take issue with the wording of the above sentence. 1) noone argues on Hillel here so ofcourse we pasken like him. 2) if someone would argue on him, we wouldn’t necesarily pasken like him. we pasken like BEIS hillel (hillel’s yeshiva) when its against beis shammai because hillel’s yeshiva was bigger and we pasken like the rabim

  2. Many years ago I sat through years of teachers who smoked in class. This resulted in my allergies being aggravated which in turn led to a chronic condition of asthma.

  3. Reb Yisroel Salanter smoked…….I guess the poor and his bittul torah were not that important. Oh and by the way obesity. Think of all the bittul Torah while overeating and to think if all that extra food would go to the poor. Sorry, not impressed you are a one issue man here who either personally finds smoking vulgar or a self righteous former smoker.

    Sincerely yours,
    Former smoker who doesn’t preach.

    PS Check on line for the positive health aspects of smoking. You will be very surprised. (and may start) Sorry no positive aspects to obesity….(Which by the way may be kept in check by smoking.)

  4. We need chizuk in this area. Bochurim have a tremendous nesayon to take their first cigarette. Once that happens, its downhill from there. In order to combat this, I believe we need two things . 1- explain the dangers of smoking in A MORE GRAPHIC WAY. we need the danger to be more real, 2- It should be more clear to the potential smoker the odds of becoming addicted from taking ONE cigarette. I firmly believe that this issue is ( Not a direct result, but ) related to the crippling issue I brought up when I wrote the letter entitled ” A new angle on the Shidduch crisis”. Please check the archives.

  5. Maskim . people hear numbers and statistics and they mach it avek. if people have in their minds visions of a lung cancer patient, etc. it might deter them.

  6. Obesity is worse then smoking no doubt. the reason its not decried as much is purely psychological. You either smoke or you dont. but obesity is a more grey area. because everyone eats. However, lets try to be perfectionists and tackle BOTH problems.

    Again i put the comment in the wrong place.

  7. I think smoking is a symptom, not a problem. the same person if he didnt smoke often will develop other problems like depression, obesity, etc. no one is happy to spend one grand a year to die ten years earlier . Why dont girls smoke? because their allowed/able to play ball, music , put on plays, and go TO WORK IF THEY WANT.

  8. As someone who smoked for many years and have now been a nonsmoker for over a year in a half, I strongly recommend the book “The Easy Way to Stop Smoking” by Alan Carr.
    The book will help anyone that wants to stop but is terrified of the prospect of never being able to smoke again.
    He shows how albeit counter-intuitive one gives up nothing when stopping to smoke and instead gains tremendously.
    He does not preach or try to guilt trip anyone into stopping. Try it, you may be surprised at the results.