Every once in a while, I come across people who make up their own rules and act like they are obeying Torah. Most people who know me know I am an affectionado of cigars. I don’t inhale them (I do believe smoke should not be inhaled for health reasons), and I don’t smoke them around non-smokers unless they come into my space. I go out of my way to not trouble non smokers with my cigar smoke. Nevertheless, some people feel obligated to lecture me about the evils of smoking and offer a prayer that all tobacco should be banned from human existence. Rather than let Holy Scripture inform their values, They have let a liberal left-wing agenda tell them what is right and wrong. They search the Scriptures in vain for a verse that will clearly show smoking to be unkosher.
The reason their search is in vain, is because it’s not there. The Torah does not speak against smoking tobacco. It is not food, and is not drink. Its smoke. It can’t be unkosher. Only in a politically incorrect world is smoking unkosher. Detractors have quoted the verse that our bodies are the “temple of the Holy Spirit,” and therefore we should take care of it. Health fanatics have used the same verse for years to justify their physical exertions, and health food fanatics have used it to purport the foods they eat. The verse is from I Corinthians 6:19, and in context, is saying that we should not join our bodies to prostitutes. It’s about sexual immorality, a far cry from smoking a cigar. As Sigmund Freud said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”
If we follow the concept that we should not smoke because the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, there are other verses that should be considered. In Exodus 19:18, it says “Now Mount Sinai [was] completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.” God’s presence was equated with smoke. This was not the only place smoke was equated with the presence of God. In Isaiah 6:1-4, Isaiah had a vision of the Lord. The temple quaked and the temple was filled with smoke. Finally, in Revelation 15:8, it says “The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.” Smoke was associated with the presence of God, and even with His Temple.
Would today’s politically correct people boycott the Temple and the presence of God because the smoke might be bad for their health? My point is that the body being the temple of the Holy Spirit doesn’t work as an argument against smoking. For the non smoking argument, it is based on an out of context inference, where the pro smoking argument has direct references to the contrary.
Smoking is a calming, peaceful activity. It does not intoxicate, as does alcohol, and does not inhibit perception or motor skills. Some of the most spiritual people were smokers. The Baal Shem Tov smoked a pipe, as did Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. From the Christian tradition, C.H. Spurgeon, the greatest preacher of the 19th century was a cigar smoker, and C.S. Lewis, who gave us The Chronicles of Narnia, and James Strong, author of Strong’s Concordance were smokers. If people wish to boycott smoking, they should boycott the works of smokers as well.
If people don’t like smoking, that is one thing, but they sin against smokers by accusing them of being “abusive,” another word from the politically correct world, which implies smokers are evil, harmful, selfish and inconsiderate people. I deeply resent the implication, because I do go far out of my way to not bother non smokers. The sin of vilifying smokers should be addressed and perpetrators should repent. Getting around it by saying I hate the behavior but not the one doing it, really doesn’t work. The result is, smokers get slandered and that is not acceptable.
I am not on a campaign to get people to smoke. If people don’t like smoke, that’s fine. I do believe society has gone too far in demonizing smoking. I believe some people have gone even further overboard by trying to make it a sin, and pretending that not smoking is some kind of a moral and spiritual virtue. It isn’t. There are some pretty nasty non smokers out there. Smoking cigars is a pleasure enjoyed by some who find it calming and relaxing, and as long as they practice it away from others, they should be left alone.