Shas spiritual leader and former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rav Ovadia Yosef, said in his weekly radio sermon Saturday night that people should stop smoking, no matter how difficult the task. People should hand out candies instead of cigarettes to their friends, he advised.
His weekly sermon was heard on Israel's Kol Chai radio. The revered Sephardic rabbi, considered one of the most learned experts in Jewish law, admitted that it may be difficult to stop smoking but that all efforts should be made to quit because it is dangerous to one’s health.
Known affectionately as “HaRav Ovadia,” he related that he advised his father-in-law, who smoked two packs of cigarettes a day, that rabbinic sages teach that one should not cause himself to be unhealthy.
When his father-in-law answered that he could not break the habit and was only able to reduce his smoking to 10 cigarettes a day, Rabbi Ovadia suggested cutting every cigarette into two pieces so that there would be 20. Eventually, his father-in-law was able to quit.
The rabbi lectured his listeners on cigarettes with a message from the Torah concerning non-Jewish idol worshippers in the Land of Israel. “Little by little, I will drive them out.” the Creator promised the People of Israel.