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Beitzah 23


QUESTION: The Gemara earlier (22a) discussed whether it is permitted, on Yom Tov, to extinguish a candle in a room where a man and his wife are residing, or to put out a fire in order to save one's home, both of which are considered necessary for Yom Tov (Rashi).

We know that the principle of "Mitoch" teaches that any Melachah that is permitted for the sake of Ochel Nefesh is also permitted for other purposes (see Insights to 12a). The Melachah of Kibuy, extinguishing, is permitted for the sake of Ochel Nefesh, as we find in our Sugya, which says that it is permitted to grill meat on top of burning coals, even though the dripping fat from the meat causes the coals to become extinguished. If so, why is there any question whether it is permitted to extinguish a flame or put out a fire on Yom Tov, and why does the Gemara conclude that it indeed is not permitted? It should be permitted because of "Mitoch!"

We find another situation in which it is permitted to do Kibuy for the sake of preparing food. When a flame is smoking and is going to ruin the food, it is permitted to extinguish the flame in order to protect the food. Once again, we may ask that since Kibuy is permitted in that case due to Ochel Nefesh, it should be permitted for other purposes as well because of "Mitoch!"

In truth, though, the latter case, extinguishing a flame in order to save food, is not a case of Kibuy for the sake of Ochel Nefesh, but rather a case of Kibuy for the sake of *Machshirei* Ochel Nefesh. "Mitoch" does not apply to Melachos that are permitted for the sake of Machshirei Ochel Nefesh, but only to Melachos that are permitted for the sake of actual Ochel Nefesh. This seems to be the intention of the ROSH (2:19). (See also PNEI YEHOSHUA, KOVETZ SHI'URIM).

However, "Mitoch" should work to permit Kibuy in all cases, since it is permitted to do Kibuy in the case of placing meat on coals, which is an actual case of Ochel Nefesh.


(a) The RE'AH here and in the CHINUCH (Mitzvah #298) explains that there are two types of Kibuy -- one that is done to effect a positive outcome (by accomplishing a desired result), and one that is done to effect a negative outcome (by removing an unwanted entity). In the case of roasting meat over the burning coals, one wants the juice of the meat to drip on the coals. In that case, the Kibuy is being done because one wants it to be accomplished and to achieve the desired consequence, and not because one is trying to remove something. The Kibuy discussed in our Gemara is when one wants to remove the flame. "Mitoch" will only permit an act of Kibuy that has a positive value, and therefore it cannot permit the Kibuy discussed in our Sugya.

(b) The CHIDUSHEI ME'IRI explains that in truth, Kibuy is not permitted because of Ochel Nefesh. Placing meat over coals in such a way that the juice of the meat drips onto the coals is not considered Kibuy for Ochel Nefesh, since the dripping and extinguishing is not what one desires; it just happens incidentally while one is cooking the meat. Deliberately extinguishing a flame is never permitted for Ochel Nefesh, and thus "Mitoch" cannot permit it for other uses either.

It is not clear what the Me'iri means by this. Perhaps he means that extinguishing the coals in such a manner is not an Isur d'Oraisa of Mechabeh at all (according to the conclusion of our Gemara), since it is done without intent. It is a Davar she'Eino Miskaven (since it is not certain that the dripping will extinguish the coals, i.e. it is not a Pesik Reisha).

(c) According to the RAMBAM, our question is not a question. The Rambam (Hilchos Yom Tov 1:4) maintains that there are only two Melachos to which "Mitoch" applies: Hotza'ah and Hav'arah (carrying into Reshus ha'Rabim and kindling a flame). Only those two Melachos may be performed for purposes other than that of food preparation. All other Melachos are permitted only for the sake of food preparation and "Mitoch" does not apply to them. (See Insights to 12:1:d.)

(d) The ROSH (2:19) seems to suggest that extinguishing a flame for Davar Acher is not considered a necessity for the Yom Tov, perhaps because it is not an act that is associated with Yom Tov. Likewise, extinguishing a flame in order to prevent monetary loss is not necessary to do on Yom Tov.


OPINIONS: The Gemara discusses placing incense on coals, which involves kindling and extinguishing on Yom Tov. These issues touch off a major debate among the Acharonim regarding the question of whether or not it is permitted to use cigarettes on Yom Tov.

While many contemporary authorities have stated that there is no allowance to smoke at all (even on a normal weekday) due to the proven dangerous effects of cigarettes and second-hand smoke on the body, nevertheless according to those who do permit a Jew to smoke, may one smoke on Yom Tov? (Our intention here is not to issue a Halachic ruling, but to summarize the issues involved.)

There are four points of discussion regarding smoking on Yom Tov.

(a) The MAGEN AVRAHAM (OC 514:4) cites the K'NESES HA'GEDOLAH who prohibits smoking on Yom Tov because it involves Mechabeh, extinguishing.

The DARCHEI NO'AM (#9), in a lengthy Teshuvah, asks that there does not seem to be any act of Mechabeh done when one smokes. If anything, it involves Hav'arah (burning), and not Mechabeh. Any conceivable form of Mechabeh involved (such as when one squeezes the cigarette, the fire is diminished) would seem to be a Davar sh'Eino Miskaven and not a Pesik Reshei, and should thus be permitted.

(b) The MAGEN AVRAHAM proposes a more basic reason to ban smoking on Yom Tov. Even if it does not involve extinguishing but only burning, and we know that Hav'arah is permitted because of the principle of "Mitoch," "Mitoch" only permits something which is "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh," which everyone enjoys, and smoking is certainly not something that everyone enjoys.

However, the PNEI YEHOSHUA (Shabbos 39b, DH v'Omer) and RAV YONASAN EIBESHITZ (Binah l'Itim, Hilchos Yom Tov 4:6) write that this is not enough to prohibit smoking. TOSFOS in Shabbos (39b, DH u'Veis Hillel) writes regarding going to a bathhouse to sweat on Yom Tov that even though washing the entire body is not "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh" and is therefore prohibited (see Tosfos Beitzah 21b DH Lo), nevertheless sweating is permitted because it is for Refu'ah, and not for pleasure. Similarly, there might be grounds to permit smoking because of its medicinal properties, since people smoke to enhance their digestion or their appetite.

RAV GUSTMAN, zt'l, was asked if we can permit smoking on Yom Tov with this argument in our day, now that the dangerous effects of smoking have been proven. Rav Gustman answered that anyone who smokes still convinces himself that it is beneficial for him. That is, the question is not whether or not smoking is objectively healthy, in the long run, but whether the person does it for the pleasure that it provides (in which case it is not "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh" and should not be permitted on Yom Tov), or for the chemical effects that it has on the body. Those who smoke do so for the artificial calming effect of the nicotine. Therefore, it could be considered "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh," because when it comes to matters of Refu'ah, we look at the ultimate effect and not at what causes that effect, as the KESAV SOFER explains in a Teshuvah (OC #64). That is to say, since everyone would like to be relaxed, whatever has relaxing effects is considered to be "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh."

The KORBAN NESANEL (Beitzah 2:22:10), cited by the BI'UR HALACHAH (511:4), mentions another reason that could make smoking be considered "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh." Since many people, and not just a few people, have the practice to smoke, it can be considered "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh." The Bi'ur Halachah adds that this obviously applies only in places where it is still acceptable to smoke and most people do so.

The KORBAN NESANEL himself, though, prohibits smoking on Yom Tov. Just because most people in a place smoke, that does not make it "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh" since it is damaging to those who are not accustomed to it. Lighting the "Mugmar" and washing one's entire body are also things that many people do and are still considered things which are not "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh" since some people do not appreciate such "pleasures." The PNEI YEHOSHUA (Shabbos 39b) also presents this argument.

(c) The PRI MEGADIM (OC 511) points out that an additional problem is introduced when there is printing or letters on the outside of the cigarette wrapper, since by smoking one destroys those letters and transgresses the Melachah of Mochek (erasing). Because of this, some people who smoke on Yom Tov do not inhale when the cigarette burns down to the letters, but they let it burn by itself, so that they should not transgress the Melachah of Mochek. RAV HILLEL RUVEL, Shlit'a, pointed out that this practice will not avoid the problem of Mochek according to the NIMUKEI YOSEF in Bava Kama (22a) who says that when one lights a fire, one is considered to have burned everything that will eventually be burned by the fire. When Rav Ruvel brought this up with Rav Gustman, zt'l, Rav Gustman said that those who act leniently can rely on the OR SAME'ACH (Hilchos Shabbos 23:2), who says that it is clear that if someone burns a book he is not Chayav for Mochek, since Mochek involves taking away the words, not the entire paper.

(d) The KORBAN NESANEL (loc. cit.) writes that even if there is no Isur d'Oraisa to smoke on Yom Tov, it is still extremely common that one transgresses Isurei d'Oraisa while smoking, such as Hav'arah while attempting to light the pipe/cigar/cigarette, or while adding or removing tobacco from a pipe, or while tapping the ashes off of a cigarette. (This may have been the intention of the Kneses ha'Gedolah cited above, (a).)

Other Acharonim (BIRKEI YOSEF OC 511) write that this reason cannot be used as grounds for prohibiting smoking on Yom Tov, because it is accepted that the sages today do not enact new Gezeiros. Since this reason entails making a Gezeirah (that one may not smoke, lest one transgress an Isur d'Oraisa while doing so), we cannot enact a rabbinical prohibition to prohibit smoking on Yom Tov in order to prevent one from transgressing Isurei d'Oraisa.

HALACHAH: The KORBAN NESANEL concludes in very strong terms that smoking on Yom Tov is reprehensible, and "if one wants to honor Hashem and his Torah he should hold himself back from smoking for one or two days (Yom Tov) , even though his Yetzer Hara might suggest ways to permit it based on the Shas."

However, most of the Acharonim, as cited by the BI'UR HALACHAH (loc. cit.), permit smoking on Yom Tov as long as one is in a place where most of the people smoke and it can be considered "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh" there. RAV MOSHE STERNBUCH points out that nowadays, since even in places where people smoke they know that it is damaging to their health and it is becoming more and more accepted not to smoke, it is difficult to rely on these reasons to permit smoking on Yom Tov.

When asked by Kollel Iyun Hadaf whether smoking is permitted on Yom Tov, RAV CHAIM PINCHAS SCHEINBERG said that it is certainly not considered something which is "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh" and thus cannot be permitted on Yom Tov. Furthermore, Rav Scheinberg pointed out that it has been proven that smoking is dangerous to one's health, and therefore smoking cannot be permitted at any time. (Regarding those who already smoke and who suffer from nicotine addiction, see RAV MOSHE FEINSTEIN, Igros Moshe YD 2:49, and RAV MOSHE STERNBUCH, Teshuvos 1:316.)

Another interesting question raised by the Acharonim is, if one person maintains that it is not permitted to smoke on Yom Tov, may he light a cigarette for someone who is lenient? The KESAV SOFER (ibid.), based on the SHA'AR HA'MELECH (Hilchos Ishus 7:12), writes that if a person holds that a certain practice is prohibited and he helps someone who holds that it is permitted to do that practice, he transgresses the Isur of "Lifnei Iver." Therefore, one who holds that it is prohibited may not help another person smoke on Yom Tov, and he must treat cigarettes and other smoking implements as Muktzah. However, the Kesav Sofer adds, if he holds that Halachah permits smoking but he personally is stringent and does not smoke, then he may light a cigarette for someone else who smokes.

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