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Besides for the health (and possible chometz) problems involved with smoking, is it possible to define smoking, in this day and age, as a davar hashaveh lechol nefesh, a universally imbibed pleasure, which would make it permissible on Yomtov? Is it something that is determined by the locale? By the world?

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1 Answer 1

As you've said, first of all you should never be smoking. Secondly, you have no idea what they're putting in those cigarettes so you shouldn't use them on Pesach.

As far as davar hashaveh lechol nefesh: the Talmud says you can cook fresh food on YomTov because freshly-cooked food is something universally appreciated. The Talmud then says that mugmar, some form of post-meal incense, is an acquired taste of the upper-class and not something universally appreciated; it doesn't pass the bar and therefore can't be done on YomTov.

I'd seen an article on the question of smoking a few years back, I believe in J. Halacha & Contemporary Society.

The simple argument would be that if "high class, acquired-taste" incense isn't universal enough, why should cigarettes be?! Non-smokers find them utterly noxious!

Cartoon -- Calvin tries smoking

In earlier times, when smoking was believed to be non-harmful and perhaps even healthy, there were different views. One argument was: "any smoker would tell you it's shaveh l'chol nefesh", which to me is an addict's reasoning if I've ever heard any. Another was: "smoking helps you digest your food better, and good digestion is universally appreciated" -- again, today we know it doesn't help you digest your food better (though if you're addicted and it calms you down, the calmness may aid your digestion; but it's certainly no better than the Talmud's case of mugmar.)

Rabbi Hershel Schachter recalled giving a shiur about yomtov and someone asked him about smoking cigars, he said it was prohibited based on the above. People smiled as a prestigious rabbi of yesteryear in that community used to hand out cigars on yomtov; all I can say is that people used to think some very different things about smoking than what we know today.

The best thing to do, by far, is just not smoke at all, ever!

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Shalom, I love your answer. However it does not address what I feel is my main issue "Is it something that is determined by the locale? By the world?" What is bothering me is how it could be that Rabbanim in Eretz Yisrael or for that matter in certain communities in Hutz La'Aretz, have not come out publicly decrying smoking on Yomtov and proclaiming the truth, that it is hillul Yomtov. Is it because Davar Hashaveh is determined by locale? Eretz Yisrael has a very high smoking rate in its population. –  Yahu Apr 11 '11 at 20:59
Shalom is suggesting that it's dependent on era. The jump from that to being dependent on locale is not a great one. –  Isaac Moses Apr 11 '11 at 22:08
Isaac, You mean to tell me that even though the whole educated world knows how potentially harmful smoking has been conclusively proven to be, if in one locale people choose to ignore reality it can be Shaveh Lechol Nefesh? –  Yahu Apr 12 '11 at 0:18
I suspect there are elements here of Shomer Psaim Hashem (which is relative to a given time, place, and culture); and Mutav sheyihyu shogegin. It takes many smokers a tremendous amount of sacrifice to go for 25 hours without a cigarette on Shabbos; an extra 25, 49, or 73 hours may be nearly impossible. (Again, best thing is just to never smoke in the first place ...) –  Shalom Apr 12 '11 at 12:19
@Yahu, I suppose you could make that distinction between time and place. I would imagine, though, that "Shaveh Lechol Nefesh" is determined by what people do rather than by what the experts say. If so, and if it's possible to define "people" as "people in this locale," then it shouldn't matter what people in other countries do or say. (FTR, I'm arguing lishmah here. I tend to accept R' Rakeffet's position that smoking is assur every day thanks to "Lo Tirtzach.") –  Isaac Moses Apr 12 '11 at 18:28

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