Sunday, November 19, 2006

Daf Yomi - Beitza 23 - Smoking on Yom Tov

Please make sure you scroll down to the comments as people are linking to very interesting articles - Halachically and health related.

UPDATE : Many people have mentioned that the number one issue should be second hand smoke - now that it has been proven that this is extremely dangerous. Here is a ruling issued by the Tzitz Eliezer.

"...וכמו כן כשמעשנים במקומות ציבוריים יכול שפיר כל אחד ואחד מהנמצאים שם החושש מזה לפיגוע בבריאותו, למחות בידי המעשנים שלא יעשנו"23.

When one is smoking in a public place, anyone in the vicinity who is concerned about his personal health can protest and demand that the person should not smoke in the area.

HaRav Moshe Feinstein Zt"l writes sharp words for those who smoke in a Beis Medrash, Yeshiva or kollel building.

(דברים חריפים יותר על חומרת איסור העישון בבית המדרש בישיבות ובכוללים, כתב הגר"מ פיינשטיין שליט"א, ראה צילום מכתבו להלן עמ' 251-248.

Please read this introduction again from the Kollel Iyun Hadaf: Most contemporary authorities state that there is no allowance to smoke at all, even on an ordinary weekday, due to the established and documented health hazards which the effects of cigarettes and second-hand smoke pose to the smoker and to those around him.

I have recently been asked during the Daf Yomi shiur a few times regarding smoking on Yom Tov. Does the principle of 'mitoch' apply? Is it a 'dovor hashaveh lechal nefesh'? If it's unhealthy for the lungs, can the logic of calming the digestive system outweigh the health factors? There are many issues. Kollel Iyun Hadaf has done extensive research on this topic and I copy it here for you. Please visit their site often as there is a wealth of information there.

Kollel Iyun Hadaf

OPINIONS: The Gemara discusses the act of placing incense on coals on Yom Tov, which involves the Melachos of kindling and extinguishing. The Gemara's discussion is relevant to a debate among the Acharonim with regard to the question of whether or not one is permitted to use cigarettes on Yom Tov.

Most contemporary authorities state that there is no allowance to smoke at all, even on an ordinary weekday, due to the established and documented health hazards which the effects of cigarettes and second-hand smoke pose to the smoker and to those around him. Nevertheless, according to those who do permit a Jew to smoke, may one smoke on Yom Tov? (This discussion is a summary of the issues involved and is not intended as a Halachic ruling.)

There are four major issues involved with smoking on Yom Tov.

(a) The MAGEN AVRAHAM (OC 514:4) cites the KENESES HA'GEDOLAH who prohibits smoking on Yom Tov because it involves the Melachah of Mechabeh, extinguishing.

In a lengthy Teshuvah, the DARCHEI NO'AM (#9) asks that the act of smoking appears to involve no act of Mechabeh, but rather an act of Hav'arah (burning). Any conceivable form of Mechabeh involved (such as diminishing the fire by squeezing the cigarette) would be a "Davar she'Eino Miskaven" and not a "Pesik Reishei," and thus should be permitted.

(b) The MAGEN AVRAHAM proposes a more basic reason to ban smoking on Yom Tov. Even if it does not involve Mechabeh but only Hav'arah, and Hav'arah is permitted on Yom Tov because of the principle of "Mitoch," the principle of "Mitoch" permits only an act which is "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh," which everyone enjoys. Smoking is certainly not something which everyone enjoys.

However, the PNEI YEHOSHUA (Shabbos 39b, DH v'Omer) and RAV YONASAN EIBESHITZ (in BINAH L'ITIM, Hilchos Yom Tov 4:6) write that this reason is not enough to prohibit smoking on Yom Tov. TOSFOS in Shabbos (39b, DH u'Veis Hillel) discusses whether one may enter a bathhouse to sweat on Yom Tov. He writes that although the act of washing the entire body is not "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh" and is therefore prohibited (see Tosfos to Beitzah 21b, DH Lo), nevertheless sweating is permitted because it is for the sake of maintaining one's health (Refu'ah) and not for pleasure. Similarly, the medicinal properties of nicotine may be grounds to permit smoking.

HAGA'ON RAV YISRAEL ZEV GUSTMAN zt'l was asked if this argument is valid grounds to permit smoking on Yom Tov today, when the dangerous effects of smoking have been proven beyond any doubt. Rav Gustman answered that any person who smokes convinces himself that it is beneficial for him. The issue of whether an activity is considered one that merely provides pleasure or one that provides health benefits does not depend on whether or not the activity is objectively healthy, but whether the person himself does it for pleasure (in which case it is not "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh" and is forbidden on Yom Tov), or for the perceived positive chemical effects that it has on his body. One who smokes presumably does so for the artificial calming effect of the nicotine. In that respect it could be considered "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh," because with regard to acts of Refu'ah what matters is the ultimate effect and not what causes that effect, as the KESAV SOFER explains (Teshuvos OC #64). Since everyone appreciates the sense of being relaxed, any act which provides relaxing effects is considered to be "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh."

The KORBAN NESANEL (Beitzah 2:22:10) cited by the BI'UR HALACHAH (511:4) mentions another rational to consider smoking an act which is "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh." Since many people, and not merely a few, have the practice to smoke, the act can be considered "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh." The Bi'ur Halachah adds that this obviously applies only in a place where smoking is the accepted cultural norm and most people smoke.

The KORBAN NESANEL himself, however, prohibits smoking on Yom Tov. The fact that in a certain place most people smoke does not make the act "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh," because smoking is harmful to those who are not accustomed to it. Lighting the "Mugmar" and washing one's entire body are also things that many people do and are still considered things which are not "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh" since some people do not appreciate such "pleasures." The PNEI YEHOSHUA (Shabbos 39b) also presents this argument.

(c) The PRI MEGADIM (OC 511) points out that an additional problem is involved when there is printing or letters on the outside of the cigarette wrapper, and by smoking one destroys those letters and transgresses the Melachah of Mochek (erasing). Because of this concern, some people who smoke on Yom Tov do not finish the cigarette when it burns down to the letters, but they let it burn by itself so that they should not transgress the Melachah of Mochek.

RAV HILLEL RUVEL shlit'a pointed out that this practice does not circumvent the problem of Mochek according to the NIMUKEI YOSEF in Bava Kama (22a). The Nimukei Yosef rules that when one lights a fire, he is considered to have burned everything that will eventually be burned by the fire. When Rav Ruvel brought this issue to the attention of Rav Gustman zt'l, Rav Gustman said that those who act leniently may rely on the OR SAME'ACH (Hilchos Shabbos 23:2) who says that one who burns a book on Yom Tov is not liable for the Melachah of Mochek, because Mochek involves taking away the words and not the entire paper.

(d) The KORBAN NESANEL (loc. cit.) writes that even if no Isur d'Oraisa forbids smoking on Yom Tov, it is almost impossible for one who smokes on Yom Tov to avoid transgressing Isurei d'Oraisa, such as Hav'arah when he attempts to light the pipe, cigar, or cigarette, or when he adds or removes tobacco from a pipe, or when he taps the ashes off of a cigarette. (This may be the intention of the Keneses ha'Gedolah cited in (a) above.)

Other Acharonim (BIRKEI YOSEF OC 511) write that this reason cannot be used as grounds for prohibiting smoking on Yom Tov, because it is accepted that the sages today do not enact new Gezeiros. Since this reason entails making a Gezeirah (that one may not smoke lest he transgress an Isur d'Oraisa), today's sages cannot enact a rabbinical prohibition to prohibit smoking on Yom Tov in order to prevent one from transgressing Isurei d'Oraisa.

HALACHAH: The KORBAN NESANEL concludes in very strong terms that one who smokes on Yom Tov acts reprehensibly, and "one who wants to honor Hash-m and his Torah should refrain from smoking for just one or two days (Yom Tov), even though his Yetzer ha'Ra might suggest ways to permit it based on the Shas."

However, most Acharonim (as cited by the BI'UR HALACHAH loc. cit.) rule that in a city where most of the people smoke, the act of smoking can be considered "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh" and thus one may smoke on Yom Tov. RAV MOSHE STERNBUCH shlit'a points out that nowadays, since even in places where people smoke they know that it is harmful to their health, and since in more and more places smoking is looked upon disapprovingly, it is very difficult to rely on these reasons to permit smoking on Yom Tov.

When asked by Kollel Iyun Hadaf whether smoking is permitted on Yom Tov, HAGA'ON RAV CHAIM PINCHAS SHEINBERG shlit'a said that it is certainly not considered an act which is "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh" and thus it is forbidden on Yom Tov.

Rav Sheinberg added that it has been proven that smoking is hazardous to one's health, and therefore smoking is never permitted, even on an ordinary weekday. (Regarding those who already smoke and who suffer from nicotine addiction, see IGROS MOSHE YD 2:49, and TESHUVOS V'HANGAHOS 1:316.)

Another interesting question raised by the Acharonim is whether one who maintains that smoking is forbidden on Yom Tov may light a cigarette for someone who is lenient. The KESAV SOFER (ibid.), based on the SHA'AR HA'MELECH (Hilchos Ishus 7:12), writes that if one person maintains that a certain practice is prohibited and he helps another person, who maintains that the practice is permitted, to do that act, he transgresses the prohibition of "Lifnei Iver." Therefore, one who maintains that smoking is prohibited may not help another person smoke on Yom Tov, and he must treat cigarettes and other smoking implements as Muktzah. However, the Kesav Sofer adds, if he maintains that the Halachah permits smoking but he personally is stringent and does not smoke, then he may light a cigarette for someone else who smokes.


Anonymous said...

There is an article on all sorts of halachos regarding smoking in Hebrew here.

Avromi said...

The Pnei Yehoshua in shabbos 39b states that there is a sevara to permit because it is good for the digestive system.

Anonymous said...

It seems that all the current Poskim mentioned are not concentrating on what's to me is the ultimate knock-out in the smoking debate, namely the recently proven medical fact that second hand smoking is at least as harmful as first hand smoking. What's more, smoking outside does not prevent second hand smoking as the harmful chemicals settle on the smoker's clothing, to spread later when he is back in a closed area.
Since this is harmful to others, the "gram Retzicha" is much more of an issue, since the second hand smokers didn't choose this life style.

Avromi said...

If you can understand Hebrew well, look at comment one and click there - if you can't let me know please and I'll try to translate some of the pertinent points.

Anonymous said...

Check out the RCA's recent ruling:
click here (PDF file)

Sam said...

It is NOT a "proven" fact that second-hand smoke is "at least as" dangerous as smoking: Just like "global warming" is not a "fact" & evolution remains a theory & not a fact, so with 2nd-hand smoke. The statistics used to calculate harm from second hand smoke are questionable, & not all authorities agree that 2nd hand smoke is significant (except for asthmatics, because of the universal irritant effect).
"retzicha" is an overstatement in this context.

Anonymous said...

Here are some articles that discuss it.


maybe not

Anonymous said...

Check this web site to see whether Gram Retzicha is an overstatement.

Sam said...

evolution & global warming are more "proven" than second-hand smoke effects--only statistical methods can be used to track the epidemiology of 2nd hand smoke effects & those stats were quite questionable