Rabbi Ovadia Yosef 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, president of the Shas Council of Torah Sages, has warned his
followers of the dangers of smoking, and stressed the importance and
plausibility of quitting if one is already addicted.
“Doctors are against
smoking; they say it causes lung cancer. Whoever can refrain from it, all the
better; he should take every effort to keep away from it,” the senior Sephardi
adjudicator said in his Saturday night televised sermon, which dealt with the
laws of Jewish holidays.
“A person who is used to smoking – it’s hard to
quit, but [he] should distance himself from it a step at a time,” he
“My father-in-law, Rabbi Avraham of blessed memory, used to
smoke two packs a day.
I told him our holy books say it is a danger. He
said, ‘What can I do? I’m used to smoking.’ I told him to gradually cut down in
the cigarettes. When he reached 10, he said, ‘I can’t go down any more,’” he
“I told him to cut each cigarette to two, [so that] he ended up
with 20. After that, he got down to five, and again said, ‘I can’t go down any
more. I told him to cut the cigarettes to two. Until he totally
“Little by little, I will drive them out before you,” Yosef said,
comparing the Canaanites to cigarettes in a reference from the Book of
“Praise the lord, we do not smoke,” Yosef said of
While Yosef has in the past spoken out about taking up smoking,
health experts say this is the first time he actually went as far as telling
people to quit.
Yosef also suggested a less harmful substitute for social
instances where cigarettes are smoked.
“There are those in yeshivas who
distribute cigarettes among friends when someone gets engaged,” he
“Better to hand out candies than cigarettes. You start by smoking
one cigarette, and then it becomes a habit, and then an addiction, and that is
very bad,” the senior adjudicator warned.