Smoking Yeshivahs ideological sins

Two thirds of cancer types are the result of a person’s bad luck, rather than bad choices such as smoking; but some of humanity’s most common and deadly cancers are heavily influenced by our lifestyle, according to a US research team trying to explain why some tissues were millions of times more vulnerable to cancer than others, reported in the BBC News (1/2/15) from the journal Science.

All cancer has an element of chance – a roll of the dice that decides whether your DNA acquires a mutation that leads to cancer. The new study shows that two thirds of cancer types are simply chance.

But the remaining third are still heavily influenced by the choices we make, and some of the most common and deadly cancers are heavily influenced our lifestyles and beliefs.

Smoking, too much booze, time in the sun, and over eating or being overweight; mean we are playing with loaded dice. Smoking accounts for a fifth of all cancers worldwide.

So with all this new evidence, why isn’t smoking banned from every Yeshivah and openly condemned by every Orthodox Rabbi?

Because in previous generations, when the link between smoking and lung cancer was not known, thousands of great orthodox rabbinic sages were heavy smokers, who never said a word against smoking. This, of course, was not their fault, since these sages lacked the knowledge that we have today.

But, since in recent decades, it has become common in many Ultra-Orthodox Yeshivot to claim that great piety, combined with great Torah knowledge, makes the opinions of great Rabbinic sages about physical, psychological, and even political issues, more important than that of less religious people who are experts in their own field.

To openly reverse the general opinion of the greatest rabbinic sages of the past on any issue, is to admit that their current opinions about political, social and sexual issues might also be wrong.

Until this attitude changes, and Yeshivah leaders admit that there is much that they have to learn from the world outside the Yeshivah, new generation of Yeshivah families will lose family members to lung cancer, not because of God’s will or bad luck; but due to bad choices in Jewish ideology.

About the Author
Rabbi Allen S. Maller has published over 250 articles on Jewish values in over a dozen Christian, Jewish, and Muslim magazines and web sites. Rabbi Maller is the author of "Tikunay Nefashot," a spiritually meaningful High Holy Day Machzor, two books of children's short stories, and a popular account of Jewish Mysticism entitled, "God, Sex and Kabbalah." His most recent books are "Judaism and Islam as Synergistic Monotheisms' and "Which Religion Is Right For You?: A 21st Century Kuzari" both available on Amazon.
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