This week’s Journal assignment was the following:
Read these students’ responses:
If I had to write a responsa to a “Wannabe Smoker,” this is how it would go (a responsa is a response to a question for a rabbi, usually regarding Torah or something related to Torah):
Dear Wannabe Smoker,
You asked if according to Jewish law if you could smoke tobacco. In an earlier response from years ago, Rabbi Jacob Emden wrote the following responsa,
“Tobacco is a healthful substance for the body…its natural action is important in helping to digest food, cleanse the mouth…and help the movement of essential functions and blood circulation which are the root of health…It is indeed beneficial to every healthy man, not only because of the pleasure and enjoyment it affords, but because it preserves one’s health and medical fitness.”
This may seem pretty peculiar now, but this responsa was written just after consuming and smoking tobacco was discovered. This is also when people thought tobacco was beneficial for health.
“Based on the medical information that we have today I am wondering if this opinion on the use of tobacco still holds – According to Jewish law is it permissible to smoke?”
According to a verse in Deuteronomy, verse 30:19, if there is a chance of death, choose life.
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed.”
Now that we have a lot more information about tobacco, I have come to a conclusion. No, you cannot smoke. By following the laws of the Torah, smoking is not permissible. Smoking does horrible things to your lungs, causing cancer and other bad diseases. In a case where you can choose between life or death, choose life, therefore, do not smoke.
For more information about smoking and how to quit smoking, click here.
Information Credit: http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0530.htm
Image Credit: http://www.clker.com/clipart-2650.html