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Medical Specialist Warns Smoking Violates Jewish Law; Rabbis Urged to Set Example

A physician who is an authority on Jewish medical ethics claims in a book just published by Yeshiva University that cigarette smoking is a violation of Jewish law because it is contrary to the Biblical injunction against intentionally placing one’s life in danger.

In a series of topical essays titled “Modern Medicine and Jewish Law,” Dr. Fred Rosner, chief of the hematological division at Queens Hospital Center, noted that “In light of the overwhelming medical evidence proving the causal relationship of cigarette smoking to cancer of the lung, heart disease and chronic bronchitis, Jewish law absolutely prohibits this practice.” He cited the Biblical passage (Deut. 4:9) as the injunction against smoking. The avoidance of danger, Dr. Rosner wrote, is stressed throughout the Bible, Talmud and Codes of Jewish law and is exemplified in the positive commandment of making a parapet for one’s roof (Deut. 22:8) so that no man may fall there-from.

Dr. Rosner urged the Jewish community to marshal its forces against smoking. He suggested that rabbis give up smoking “in order to practice what they preach and teach by example.”