When Rav Shach Quit Smoking


rav-shachIn Hagaon Harav Elazar Shach’s younger years, he was a heavy smoker. He even used to say that he cannot stand being without a cigarette, and that he doesn’t understand how a person can create chiddushim in Torah without a cigarette, for the smoking helps one concentrate and focus on the depths of Talmudic discussions. This is how he conducted himself for many years, until he once had to undergo a serious operation, and his doctor instructed him to stop smoking during his recuperation period.

After recuperating, he asked the doctor if he could start smoking again, and the doctor answered, “If you have already stopped smoking, it would be better for you not to begin again.” (This was before it was known how injurious smoking was to one’s health). Rav Schach’s reaction was, “If smoking is dangerous for my health, even slightly, I will stop completely.” He took the pack of cigarettes that had been waiting for months on top of his dresser, and threw it away immediately and forcefully.

Long afterwards, he recalled that from the moment he made the decision to stop smoking, he instantly ceased to feel any need to smoke, and he did not miss it at all. He often recounted this incident to members of his family and talmidim as a demonstration of the fact that “nothing can stand in the way of a man’s will. Making a decision itself may be difficult, but when one decides with full conviction to change a habit, it is possible to stick to a decision.”

{Coversations With Rav Shach/Dovid Bernstein-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Read Alan Carr’s book – “The Easy Way to Stop Smoking”, and you’ll stop. Thousands have done it, and you can too.

  2. Wow!! Very inspiring!! Thank you Matzav 4 sharing this w/us!! I feel that this story should be spread around and handed out in many Yeshiva’s, and if one live is saved bec. someone was inspired and stopped smoking, it would be well worth it!

  3. Why is this inspiring???????? My father quit smoking after 30 years when his doctor told him he was at risk for getting lung cancer.