Thursday, May 17, 2007


The Gemora states: Three types of women are permitted to insert a wad into their bodies prior to engaging in marital relations in order to prevent conception. They are: A minor, a pregnant woman and a nursing woman. A minor is permitted because otherwise, she may become pregnant and die. A pregnant woman is permitted because otherwise, she might become pregnant again, and the second fetus will crush the first one. A nursing woman is permitted because otherwise, she might be compelled to wean her child, resulting in his death.

The braisa continues: What age minor are we referring to? We are concerned when the minor is between eleven and twelve years old. If she is younger or older than that, she is not permitted to cohabit in that manner; these are the words of Rabbi Meir.

The Chachamim disagree with the entire ruling and state that these women should cohabit in the regular manner and Heaven will have compassion on them (becoming pregnant in these situations is highly unusual and therefore we prohibit them from utilizing and type of contraceptive measures) as it is written [Tehillim 116:6]: Hashem protects the fools.

Rabbi Winston (Rabbi Winston) discusses the statement of "G-d protects the fools." It is often used in situations of halachically- reasonable risk (Shabbos 129b; Yevamos 12b). For example, when many people do something that may be somewhat risky for one's health, but statistically, nothing has become conclusive, then halachically, one can continue to perform the act and not worry about the consequences. Even should there be some latent danger in the act, G-d will intercede on the person's behalf and protect the "fool."

For a long time, cigarette smoking fell into this category. Though the Torah is against all kinds of physical addiction for obvious reasons, as long as there wasn't conclusive proof that the risk factor wasn't as great as we now know it to be, and many people smoked without negative results, it remained halachically permissible to do so; G-d protects the fools.

However, cigarette smoking is now known to be the number one man-made killer of human beings, and this consciousness has made its way into the Torah world, albeit somewhat late. We are no longer "fools" with respect to the effects of cigarette smoking, and, the Poskim (those who decide Torah-law) have now posted signs asking those who still smoke to begin weaning themselves from doing so. For years already, however, they have forbid anyone to start smoking.