Thursday, March 15, 2007

Daf Yomi - Moed Katan 5 - Perils of Smoking

The Gemora cites a braisa: Agents of Beis Din are sent out during Chol Hamoed to remove thorns from the road, fix the roads and streets and measure the ritual baths. If the mikvah does not have the required forty se’ah of water in it, they would fill it up. From where is it known that if they do not go out and as a result, some blood is spilled (people get injured or even killed), that it is regarded as the Beis Din themselves have spilled their blood? The Torah states [Devarim 19:10]: The blood will be upon you.

Rav Shmuel Vozner in Shevet Levi (10:295) was asked regarding the custom of people that smoke cigars and cigarettes, which is well known that they cause great hazards to people’s health.

He cites the Rambam in Hilchos Rotzeach Ushmiras Hanefesh (11:5): There are many things that the Rabbis prohibited on the account that they are dangerous to one’s life. One who transgresses this and says that he is willing to put himself in harm’s way and does not care what others say; Beis din has the right to administer thirty-nine lashes to him.

The Rambam lists various types of food and drink that are hazardous to one’s health. The Ritva in Shavuos (27) writes: Food that damages one’s body is included in the Biblical prohibition of guarding oneself and protecting one’s body from any harm.

The Chasam Sofer (Avoda Zora 30) writes: It is incumbent on the Sages of their generation to monitor this and caution the entire community to watch what they eat and drink and to ensure that they remain healthy. If the Sages do not supervise over this and people become ill or die, it is regarded as if the Sages themselves killed them.

Rav Vozner states that it is integral on the leaders of their community to counsel and caution the public in regards to the hazards and dangers of smoking cigarettes, something that has been proven without a shadow of a doubt, that causes lung cancer and ultimately for people to die before their time.

He concludes that it is strictly forbidden for someone to start smoking and Biblically mandated for parents and teachers to ensure that younger boys should refrain from smoking.

Heaven forbid, that one should smoke in a place where it can cause damage to others.

Newspapers and magazines should not advertise on any smoking related products.

Anyone that heeds the words of our Sages and prevents others from commencing life-threatening habits will merit for himself and his family a long and healthy life.