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tobacco and other drug use
(11-04-2011, 02:54 AM)bdschuh Wrote: In my Noahide studies, I can't help that sometimes I happen to read a commentary on Kabala. I have read that burning any plant might attract demons. Is it true that this can happen, regardless of whether or not the plant is aromatic? Is this true in regard to smoking plants (e.g. in pipes or cigarettes)? And if so, what can one do to destroy the demons he created?

You should not be concerned about that at all. It is a non-issue. You should drop the issue, especially because it is distracting you from things that are actually important in your life.

(11-04-2011, 02:54 AM)bdschuh Wrote: Could my chain-smoking of tobacco be attracting demons? What about smoking marijuana? What about, G-d forbid, smoking something absolutely evil like cocaine?

You are forbidden to damage yourself physically or spiritually, and doing so is much worse than some act that might attract demons.

(11-04-2011, 02:54 AM)bdschuh Wrote: Also, whether you smoke "incense" or burn it for its smell, it might have been previously dedicated to the worship of an idol or false god. What if that plant, to the best of your knowledge, was not dedicated to serving false gods?

If you know for sure that the incense was dedicated for the service of an idol, you may not use it or benefit from it. If you don't know, or if you only have a mere doubt that it might have been dedicated as such, there is nothing wrong with using it.
The following letter from the Lubavitcher Rebbe is posted on-line at

[Letter dated] 20 Adar, 5739 (1979)
This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 7th of Adar, in which you write about the problem of smoking.

Needless to say, this is a matter for specialists in this field, namely the medical profession. Herein also lies the answer why rabbinic authorities have not taken a position on this matter.

Additionally, and this, too, is a basic factor:

Even according to those medical authorities who hold the opinion that cigarette smoking is harmful to the health, this opinion is based on the quality of cigarettes as they are now manufactured, which contain harmful substances.

A great deal of research is being conducted to find a way to eliminate those harmful substances in cigarettes and produce a harmless cigarette, in which case there would be no room at all for issuing an issur [ban] on cigarette smoking.

Thus, for rabbis to issue a ban at this time would, at best, be premature, but more importantly, any ban in accordance with the Torah would be a permanent one, as the Torah itself is permanent and unchangeable.

As for the general obligation to take care of one's health, there is no need for rabbis to take any special action, since this is a fundamental din [law] in the Shulchan Aruch [Code of Jewish Law].

Since you have written to me on this matter, I want to take advantage of this opportunity to make a practical point.

Noting how concerned you are with a matter which has to do with physical health, even though it is not unanimous, and there are people who think that in certain cases, at any rate, there is a positive aspect, and the withdrawal from it may be even more harmful than the smoking, all of which need not be discussed here - I trust that you are surely much more involved in promoting the spiritual health of fellow Jews, namely strengthening their observance of the Torah and mitzvoth [commandments] in everyday life.

In this area there is no room for any doubts or differences of opinion about the Torah and mitzvoth being "our life and the length of our days."

It is surely unnecessary to point out to you that this is the obligation of every Jew in accordance with the mitzvah of "You shall love your fellow as yourself" as well as "Reprove, you shall reprove your people."

Noting the repetition, our Sages emphasize that it indicates perseverance "up to 100 times," which means that having tried unsuccessfully 99 times, there is still the obligation to try once more, certainly if one is just beginning to fulfill this obligation.

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