Sunday, July 15, 2007

PROTECTING THE FOOLS (who smoke) - Yevamos 72 - Daf Yomi

The Gemora asks: Why weren’t they circumcised in the Wilderness?

You can answer that it was due to the fatigue of the journey (this would have threatened their lives).

Alternatively, you can answer that it was because the north wind did not blow for them (the north wind is neither hot nor cold, and it usually scatters the clouds which enable the sun to shine through and heal the circumcision wound.)

The Gemora asks: Why didn’t the north wind blow?

The Gemora answers: They were being rebuked by Hashem (on account of the sin of the golden calf or because of the spies).

Alternatively, you can say that the northern wind didn’t blow in order that the Clouds of Glory should not scatter.

Rav Pappa said: Therefore, circumcision should not be performed on a cloudy day or on a day when the south wind blows; nor should one let blood on such a day. At the present time, however, since many people are in the habit of disregarding these precautions, we apply the verse [Tehillim 116:6]: Hashem protects the fools.

Rabbi Winston discusses the statement of "Hashem 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.


Anonymous said...

It is one thing to protect the "fools" who smoke, but is there a protection for those around him, who inhale the poisonous air?

Avromi said...

Second-hand-smoke is discussed here Daf Notes in the comments section.