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August 26, 2005


You fail to consider that R Moshe knew that you can't asser smoking for all the reasons the others give but just gave doshu bo rabim as shorthand for all this, because it was available and true at the time. It is very hard to make a serious halachic case to ban smoking. The others who are matir are making r moshe's reasoning explicit.

IOW R Moshe by giving doshu bo rabim was being politically correct. His tshuva is aiming to maximize the claims of peopel who'd try to get people not to smoke in future while being matir. You have to read tshuvas with an eye to the subtext and tone.

This overliteralization (he said "make it ossur" for new smokers! so that's a contradiction! he must have held it's ossur~!) is a breakdown of sense, something that happens sometimes over the course of generations (see mimetic vs textual traditions) But is happening waaaaaay too fast today because students are not grasping the mindset and language and context in which piskei tshuva are written.


If you're saying that in 1963 Reb Moshe gave a shorthand response and had other reasons not to forbid (asser) smoking, I agree. But by 1981, don't you sense that he is moving closer to an issur by the end of the responsum?

Why do you think it's "very hard to make a serious halachic case to ban smoking"? Even R. Bleich, who defended Reb Moshe's position vigorously, recently (2003) indicated clearly that the conditions are in place for an issur. Several notable rabbis have made this case about two decades before.

(Not sure whose/which items in this post you're reacting to.)

Good point about reading in context. Of course, subtext and tone require interpretation, which is what we're engaged in. Thanks for all your comments,



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Since when is cigarette smoking a bad thing. jk jk jk

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he can't do that, even if the tobacco smoking was wrong or un-healthy, it's a personal decision do it or not!

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Maybe it has something to do with the fairly new stigma associated with cigarette smoking that did not exist before the 80's/90's? I wonder what his stance on e cigarettes would be?

damier geant

you don't blog often, pls keep your twitter acct, some of your updates are hilarious.

Clarice Fullington

We shouldn't forget that smoking was highly acceptable back in the days, especially during war time. But now, of course, things have changed. We are now fully aware of the dangers of cigarettes. In fact, we've developed all sorts of devices, like vaporizers and the like, to get rid of that worldwide addiction. My brother, for one, knows that things have indeed changed. He now uses a forced air vaporizer for him to slowly recover from his cigarette dependence.

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