The Matzav Shmoooze: Let Them Smoke


cigaretteDear Editor,

Assur assur assur. That’s what we tell our youth. You can’t do this and you can’t do that.

Not all people say that, but some do. The astute mechanchim are just that. They are astute. They know how and when to pick their battles.

So now we have some perhaps well-meaning activists fighting against smoking. Smoking is not a good practice, to be sure. But it is what it is, and it is one of the only permitted outlets for our young men, our yeshiva boys.

Having been involved with youth for many years, I can tell you with certainty that the large majority of boys who smoke stop after they are married. Don’t believe the propaganda that the activists will try to sell you about young husbands dying from smoking. It’s a lie. Again, most boys who smoke stop after matrimony.

Let’s leave our young adults alone when it comes to things like this. If you don’t let them smoke, they will perhaps come to be drawn to other, more harmful influences.


Y. W.

Brooklyn, NY

{ Newscenter}


  1. According to the CDC, smoking cigarettes just the first stop. What leads to it afterwards is pretty scary. I’ve seen firsthand those results. Let’s assume that they just stick to smoking. Once again, the friends of mine have done that, and claims that they will stop once they get married, never have. Have all those friends, only one has.

    All girls out there, do not think that since the guy is the best guy in the world, I will still marry him even though smokes, because after we get married, he will stop and change. That rarely ever ever ever happens!

    I don’t care if the boy is the son of the biggest Rav, or is on the way to becoming the biggest RAV himself, I will never ever ever let my daughter go out with him.

  2. Y. W., why are you picking this as your fight? When I developed cancer the doctors said that even though I stopped 30 years before it could still be attributed to the smoking I did before.

    Can you afford the responsibility of letting people smoke and saying nothing?

  3. Ridiculous. If we tell them Assur, Assur, Assur then maybe after marriage they will stop.
    But if we don’t tell them, why should they ever stop.
    Chinuch does not mean you can do whatever you want. It means that I will teach you and try to train you to do whats right. Maybe one day down the road you will remember what I taught you and it will affect you.

  4. Smoking *is* dangerous.

    You claim that many people quit before marriage. I would tend to doubt that the majority do, considering how many married smokers I see. Yet, even so, the easiest way to stop smoking is to simply not start.

    I’m all for outlets for our youth – but to defend this, one of the most dangerous (not to mention odious) outlets, is simply wrong.

    The Wolf

  5. Are you kidding? These young bochurim might tell themselves that they will stop after marriage, but it is easier said than done. That is what addiction means. It is risky, destructive behavior. And yes, it is not “a permitted outlet” by any stretch. Smoking kills, and not easily, at all. And if it doesn’t kill, it maims and forces many unpleasant lifestyle changes on those who choose to engage in it. Dying would be kind to some of those who have severe limitations placed upon them due to the damage to their lungs smoking caused. And that is not a lie.

  6. I have a simple solution to stop yeshiva bochurim from smoking
    Assure to smoke in our yeshiva ,Caught, OUT
    Off campus Bien Hazzmanim,caught OUT

    No ands ifs or (Butts)

    To many yugeliet laying in hospital beds waiting for their children to become yesomim r”l

  7. Are you kidding?! We need to lessen the no-nos so let’s let them do something bad to their bodies?
    How about encouraging boys to work out? Play sports? Cook? Sing? Dance? Play music? Pursue art and other talents they have?
    How about an outlet that recognizes individuality?
    How about an outlet that takes effort and is rewarding?
    How about an outlet that is not an unhealthy addiction?
    How about an outlet they can keep for life instead of hoping they will stop when they get married? What are they supposed to do once they give up this “outlet”?

  8. so let them wear khaki pants. or (gasp chalila) black jeans. smoking is poison and any yeshiva that allows and tolerates it is not a yeshiva.

  9. This letter reeks of am ha’aratzus (or perhaps a poor attempt at sarcasm). Chamira sakanta mei’isura. End of story.

    Besides, there are plenty of healthy outlets. Let the kids play ball. And maybe some of the yeshivos ought to invest in exercise equipment as well. And to the hand-wringers who will complain that the yeshivos in Europe didn’t have exercise rooms — chances are they didn’t have indoor plumbing either.

  10. The latest scientific research has shown that the third hand smoke – the chemicals left behind in the environment such as on clothing, in the walls, and throughout the home or car are actually as great or even greater risk of being carcinogenic as second hand smoke. Smoking is no longer about a choice you make to endanger or safeguard your own life. It has now been shown by science to be a danger to everyone exposed to the carcinogens produced by the smoker and these carcinogens persist in the environment for years. As far as the smoker is concerned besides the highly increased risk of developing Lung Cancer, there is also the risk of Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – your lungs don’t work and you can’t breath, which can develop decades after quitting smoking. Read about Leonard Nemoy. there is also the damage caused to the cardio vascular system which results in heart disease. Unfortunately every cigarette you smoke causes irreversible damage to your body which may only become apparent later in life. Quitting smoking is good and reduces the risks over the long term but it does not reverse all of the damage done. Smoking should not be tolerated in the frum community and yeshivas should be giving health courses that educate about the dangers. A Rebbi who smokes is a poor role model for his Talmidim.

  11. Even if we are to believe this anonymous ‘Y.W’that ‘the large majority of boys who smoke stop after they are married’, does that mean it is OK to allow the significant minority to suffer the gruesome consequences of this filthy habit?!
    With the scientific evidence we have today, it is Peshi’ah Gedola to make such a ludicrous suggestion.
    Go and visit the cancer, stroke and heart wards of your nearest hospital and tell those unfortunate victims what you have said here.
    You should be utterly ashamed of yourself!

  12. Your argument is absurd.

    Firstly, a frum argument. Smoking is assur. Period. Halacha is the halacha. We are all well aware of the dangerous and damaging harmful effects of smoking (and even second hand smoke). Prior generations simply did not have such information and studies available.

    I am assuming that you overlooked this point, rather than are suggesting a violation of halacha (and apikorsus).

    Secondly, a secular argument. In addition to being against halacha, it is wrong medically to allow anyone to take poisonous gases into their lungs. Yhe Marlboro Men are all dead. What loving, caring parent allows their children to shorten their like span and possible those around them?

    Thirdly, the remedy for our youth lies not in being more permissive for we are already way too permissive with our kids. Instead we need to enable our children with the willpower to say no. As a general statement, kids nowadays are far more spoiled than any prior generation (as any older person of any racial background or religion in any land) and many grow up without any ability to refrain from any immediate desire (tayva).

    Further, it is a chilul Hashem to smoke. Others (frum, non-frum and non-Jews) perceive it to be disgusting and unbecoming.

    I’ll rest here, but there’s more to say as well.

  13. smoking shaves off about 15 years of a person’s life and brings with it a host of other diseases BUT SO DOES A LACK OF A PROPER DIET AND LACK OF EXCERCIZE. Smoking is just an easy target.

  14. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
    It is Assur. Assur. Assur.
    Smoking Kills!! Where are you living??
    Smoking is an addiciton; nice try to convince yourself that most guys stop smoking after they get married!
    For what reason did you post this??
    Are you really concerned about our youth??
    Then post some material on how “Smoking Kills.”

  15. I agree. It should be discouraged as a terrible habit for losers, but we should not look at the boys who smoke as bad. It should be their worst vice. That and colored socks.

  16. Agreed! Where do you think the new binge drinking comes from? you can’t restrict a bochur in every area. If he can’t smoke he will drink and I for one prefer smoking

  17. It is nice to hear from the other side.

    I am married for a number of years and i have noticed those who smoked when they were Bochurim continue doing so even after they were married, less often but still enjoying smoking on a regular basis.

    Yet to make it osur, osur, osur is perhaps not the way.

    However, maybe an effort should be made that our Mechanchim, Rabbonim etc should on a regular basis say what it is about smoking, speak against it and even if there are certain “choshuve” Yeshivos where the boys smoke unrestrained maybe efforts should be made to discourage them from attending these Yeshivos even if it is good for their “shidduch resume”.

    There are too many older people smoking, people who we all look up to, lets make an effort to ask them to stop, then the younger generation will not have the excuse to start.

  18. Part of the problem is that smoking is one the only “PERMITTED” outlets, when in fact it is totally assur. Whereas healthy and muttar outlets are “forbidden”.

  19. You are probably posting this to play devils advocate, but smoking really isn’t a joke. Smoking doesn’t look damaging when someone sees a healthy young person standing around smoking, but come to any ICU in a hospital and look around at all the fifty year old people in beds stuck on a ventilator with a hole in their throat in order to breathe. Needless to say, this is only because they smoked. Ask around, smokers don’t start smoking when they are older they usually start as teenagers. Encouraging smoking is ridiculous.

  20. Chamira Sakanta M’Issura! There is absolutely no logic to this post. The health dangers of smoking are well known as is the probability of addiction. To make baseless assertions that “most boys who smoke stop after matrimony” is ludicrous. Why start in the first place? Cigarette smoking and underage drinking are health dangers and are extremely addictive. The writer states, “they will perhaps come to be drawn to other, more harmful influences” to what I respond, there is nothing more harmful than smoking and drinking. Chamira Sakanta M’Issura is a known halacha. One can be persuaded to stop doing a particular sin. However, addiction to smoking or alcohol is very difficult to overcome.

  21. I get it: 50 years after the Surgeon General’s report that smoking is dangerous, smoking is not worth making an issue over.

    Matzav, I am embarrassed over this irresponsible anonymous opinion piece. Do you really want it on your cheshbon if even one person starts smoking (or decides not to stop) because you printed this?

  22. I could not disagree with you more. All you are teaching our youth is that bad behavior is acceptable, so long as it’s not done while married. I can think of plenty other issurim that maybe people should try out “because they’re not married”.

  23. There are a lot of vague comments here without any proof. People besides for off the derech kids R’l kids might actually take you seriously if you posted your name and credentials.

  24. This was written by someone who is a pack a day smoker.

    Go ahead, delete this comment, but stop selling everyone a pack of lies.

  25. # 2 you are a fool.
    If the guys the biggest Rav then it’s kdei to take the risk, that he can’t stop (and won’t) later in life. Like they say the benefits out way the risks.

  26. maybe people should listen to #13 i started smoking and so did most guys i know to get attention from friends. If all bochurim would feel good about themselves then the amount of smokers would go down a lot. Also i was a guy who smoked to get attention and then the menahal screams at me doesnt help the mazav it just makes it worse

  27. why is it “assur” to smoke. you dont want your son to do something dangerous,so say dont smoke why is it a religious thing it should be “not allowed” not “assur”

  28. Outlet’s the word!!

    Outlets to lung cancer!!

    Outlets debt!!

    That’s the way to go!!!

  29. how can you even publish this opinion? the poorest and least educated of every society are the heaviest smokers. In other words, the people on this planet that make the poorest decisions are also the people who smoke the most.

  30. The last time I saw a yungerman smoking was a long time ago. It is rare!

    And I sit for 9 hours everyday surrounded by 2,000 yungelite! (Bais Aharon/Bais Shalom).

  31. How low have we fallen that we are taking this idea of smoking as an approvable outlet for our students our friends or our children?
    Not only are we enabling current smokers to keep the habit strong we are telling our children its ok.
    Statistics don’t lie, people do. Statistics show thats its dangerous to smoke, statistics show that people do not usually quit the first time they try or even the second, statistics show that its extremely harmful to inhale second hand smoke.
    Statistics do not show that allowing our Yeshiva Bochurim to smoke is keeping them frum or helping off the derech children back on the proper path.
    Before contemplating stupidity try removing all personal feelings (negios) and actually think about the facts. Not the feelings of our members on the fringe of our society. We can however understand that individuals who write articles such as these are generally negative and need to be reached out to with kindness and love.

  32. Rabbi Avigdor Miller, tape # 846, Life and Time:
    “A yeshivah bochur who smokes cigarettes, he is
    learning and smoking cigarettes, it is a contradiction.” (exact quote)

    Rabbi Avigdor Miller, said this at one of his Thursday night lectures:
    “Any yeshivah man who smokes cigarettes is a behemah.” (exact quote)

    Rabbi Avigdor Miller, said this at one of his Thursday night lectures:
    “Any yeshivah man who smokes cigarettes is lower than a goy.” (exact quote)

  33. To # 25, I have to say I disagree with you. I prefer my children don’t smoke or drink( but as a Rebbe I recognize that if they want to,there is nothing I can do to stop it ) but between the two I would rather they drink than smoke. There are far more adults smoking heavily than alcoholics in our community.

  34. How can any Yid with a brain in his head put something in his system that carries a warning about its poisonous effects right on the package? Would you drink a cup of Clorox? Smoking is dangerous, poisonous and carcinogenic. With every puff you’re inhaling the same black tar they pave roads with. Would you let your child play anywhere near that tar? Of course not, yet you deliberately inhale it into your lungs 10-20 times a day.
    I have some news for you, Mr Smoker: NO GIRL WANTS TO BE MARRIED TO A WALKING ASHTRAY!
    And, no shver wants to see is hard earned support money literally going up in smoke.
    To be perfectly honest, when I see you buying food with food stamps and then pull out cash to buy cigarettes it irks the Dickens out of me. If you can’t afford to feed your family you have no business wasting money you obviously don’t have on pieces of paper wrapped around shredded leaves; for that’s all cigarettes really are. All the money you waste filling Philip Morris’s bank account could be used to buy your kids shoes or clothing or to pay your schar limud or to buy your wife, that’s the aishes chayil who’s shvitzing 9-5 everyday to keep you in kollel, a well deserved present. (Actually, the best present you could ever give her or your children is to stop smoking.)
    I don’t know who wrote this article, but it’s obvious all the tar and nicotine he’s inhaled over the years has affected his brain.

  35. Nice to see that most people nowdays recognize the serious problems associated.

    Personally, I would go with the education/influencing approach rather than “ossur”.

  36. I smoked a pack-pack and a half of lights a day, for eight years.
    Got married and after five years I stopped. That was 10 years ago… I was the last from my shiur in Yeshiva to stop.
    Don’t start. But even more importantly, Don’t judge and demonize those who smoke, those who wear black jeans or those that are willing to marry a smoker!

  37. Attention Matzav: You just lost all of mine and many others’ respect for your site by posting this ridiculous and dangerous peice of drek.

  38. i never understood why there is selectivity in vices – i know the seforim speak highly of smoking but i would say most of these bachurim don’t have such gehoibener kavunos when they smoke like the tzaddikim and admorin

  39. in todays system, the high schools build huge buildings without a gym or any source of recreation because its goyish to have such a facility. most children need an outlet

  40. Rabbi BenZion Halberstam, second Rebbe of Bobov, smoked cigars.
    When his doctor told him that smoking is unhealthy, he quit smoking immediately and never smoked again.

    SOURCE: Gut Voch (paragraph titled: Will Power To Live, found in chapter 7, on page 84) by Avrohom Barash, 1998 CE, Mesorah Publications, Brooklyn, New York, ISBN 1-57819-273-9 (paperback).

    MICROBIOGRAPHY: Grand Rabbi Ben Zion Halberstam (born 1874 CE, died 1941 CE) succeeded his father as the second Rebbe of Bobov at the age of 31. He wrote a commentary on the Torah called Kedushas Tzion. He was murdered by Nazis, ??? ???.

  41. Looking for an outlet for our son’s, how about opening a gym…many gym’s… where they can release their tension. And this includes “chassidish, litvish, heimish,etc. How about a place to throw a ball..where it’s kosher to play ball..We need to change the whole structure. We are not living in the 1800’s or 1900’s unfortunately. Our children DO NEED a place to release steam. But letting them smoke with the intention that they will stop is nothing sort of a BIG JOKE!

  42. AL (#13) has it right. We are restricting our boys too much in the wrong places – and the result is DRUG ADDICTION. Nicotine is a DRUG – a very powerful one. It affects the mind directly and quickly. It eases anxiety. It calms the smoker down and makes them feel more relaxed. The effects are almost like a short-term Prozac pill. And it’s immediate, because it’s absorbed through the lungs, like a hit of crack cocaine. And it’s harder to kick than heroin. (That should tell you something.)

    The real issue is, WHY DO OUR BOYS NEED TO USE A DRUB? forget what may happen in 20-30 years. Why can our boys get hooked after only a few cigarettes on Purim? Because they need something to feel better – a drug which acts like Prozac – or pot. This isn’t something from “der welt” – it’s something we are doing as a society, and if we we really care about our boys – we’ll do something.

    How do I know all this? Because I used to smoke myself. I tried to stop many, many times before succeeding – despite the fact that my father AH passed away from a smoking-caused illness. People smoke because it makes them feel better – because it’s a powerful drug. And that our boys need a drug is the real problem.

  43. i agree with him all the way.
    you guys are a bunch of naive one track minded people let bocherim live a little bit nothing will happen to them if they smoke every so often, nowadays everything that a yeshiva bocher does is wrong, let them have a little space. im sure most of you people writing are a bunch of sonei Torah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    and if someone is crazy enough to say that he wouldn’t let his daughter go out with a smoker
    doesnt deserve a chashuv bocher for his daughter any how and he for sure is a sonei torah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and most bocherim do stop when they get married because they all know that smoking is not good for you but its just a little outlet to let out every so often……

  44. Yeah! Of course! It’s easy to stop! Any smoker who wanted to stop, stopped! Just get married and then you stop smoking! It’s all these anti-smoking people who don’t let their daughters marry smokers who cause that there are so many smokers!

  45. The author is (however difficult it is for you recognize) CORRECT!

    They’re are very few inexpensive outlets out there for our youth!

    Particularly ones that could be done multitasking.

    Most youth expect to stop after marriage ,and yes, they DO!

    IT’S rare to accost someone still smoking regularly into their 30’s!

    Perhaps marriage is the ultimate outlet!

    Therefore,unless they’re smoking more than a few a day,it very hard to say it is in the realm of halacha AND Issura


  46. …but I will continue to smoke. Smokers are aware that smoking is dangerous, as well as non smokers are. Let’s not bury our heads in the sand and think that we can educate people to a healthier lifestyle.
    Read some Dale Carnegie and learn how to effectively deal with people.
    If lung cancer doesn’t convince people to stop smoking, neither will you.

  47. Matzav – Please don’t post the many stupid comments from people who have time to write them, instead of learning Torah.

  48. Rabbi Simcha Bunim, born 1898 CE, died 1992 CE:
    I was a smoker, and with me it was not for gashmius.
    When I found out that it was harmful, I promptly discontinued it.

    Rabbi Simcha Bunim Alter was the fifth Rebbe of Ger from 1977 CE to 1992 CE. He was known as the Lev Simcha after a book he authored.

    Jewish Action: Magazine of the Orthodox Union, Spring 1995 CE, page 7

  49. My husband planned on stopping when he got married, but still smokes. He tried to quiet many times, but can’t do it. It’s a major issue that affects our shalom bayis. It is literally hundreds of hard earned dollars every month that we do need. The smell that doesn’t leave him is very unattractive. I fear for my health and that of my children as he will very often smoke while driving with all of us in the car. DO NOT ALLOW YOUR SONS TO SMOKE, IT IS VERY HARD TO STOP, AND WHILE YOU DON’T HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT THEIR SUFFERING WIVES DO!!!

  50. Rav Schach (born 1898 CE, died 2001 CE) was a heavy smoker
    in his younger years, before it was known how injurious smoking is to health.
    After an operation, he asked his doctor if he could start smoking again.
    The doctor said: ‘It would be better for you not to begin again.’
    Rav Schach reacted: ‘If smoking is dangerous for my health, even slightly,
    I will stop completely.’ He threw his cigarettes away and never smoked again.

    SOURCE: condensed from HaRav Schach: Conversations (page 234) by Feldheim

  51. “The Halachah Committee of
    the Rabbinical Council of America
    (RCA) said that Jewish Law is
    opposed to smoking.”

    SOURCE: The Jewish Press,
    2006/07/14, page 38.

  52. “Yeshiva Zichron Dovid [an affiliate of the world renowned
    Rabbinical Seminary of America (Chofetz Chaim Yeshiva)
    of Queens NY] has a strict NO SMOKING policy for its
    students, and forbids smoking on its premises.”

    SOURCE: The Jewish Press, 2007/2/23, page 23

  53. “Yeshiva Zichron Dovid [an affiliate of the world-renowned
    Rabbinical Seminary of America (Chofetz Chaim Yeshiva)
    of Queens NY] has a strict NO SMOKING policy for its
    students, and forbids smoking on its premises.”

    SOURCE: The Jewish Press, 2007/2/23, page 23

  54. “ Jews are not allowed to smoke, and they are required to observe a healthful way of life, said Rabbi Moshe Shaul Klein, Rabbi of Bnei Brak’s Maayanei HaYeshua Medical Center and representative of the halachah committee of one of Jerusalem’s leading rabbinical arbiters, Rabbi Shmuel Wosner

    SOURCE: article by Judy Seigel Itzkovich 2008 July 11 in The Jewish Herald, page 30.

  55. Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, Rosh HaYeshivah of the Philadelphia Yeshivah:

    Today smoking is a Torah prohibition, because today we know the dangers.
    There is no question in my mind that if the chachamim [the early sages] would be around today, they would forbid smoking because it brings a person into a sachanah [danger].

    …there is also a danger for the people around him who can be affected by the smoke.

    SOURCE: Who Wants Life by Baruch Twersky, Mishpacha Jewish Family weekly, 2007 April 11 (5767 Nisan 23), page 33

  56. #77 Mr. Cohen – Your story implies that Rav Shach though it to be mutar to smoke as he never said “If it is dangerous, then it is ossur and I can’t do it.” According to the way you put it, it sounds like a personal decision and chumra.

  57. “Smoking was the leading cause of fatal
    fires in New York City, according to
    FDNY statistics. 17 people died
    from fires started by cigarettes
    in the fiscal year 2006.”

    SOURCE: article by Patrick Gallahue,
    The New York Post, 04/27/2007, page 8