QUESTION: The Gemara earlier (22a) discusses whether one is permitted to extinguish a flame on Yom Tov in a room where a man and his wife reside, or to extinguish a fire in order to save one's home from damage. Both acts are considered necessary for Yom Tov (RASHI).
The principle of "Mitoch" teaches that any Melachah permitted for the sake of Ochel Nefesh is also permitted for other purposes (see Insights to Beitzah 12:1). The Melachah of Mechabeh (or Kibuy), extinguishing, is permitted for the sake of Ochel Nefesh, as the Gemara here teaches when it says that one is permitted to grill meat on top of burning coals on Yom Tov even though the fat that drips from the meat extinguishes the coals.
Since "Mitoch" permits one to extinguish for any purpose, why does the Gemara here question whether one is permitted to extinguish a fire on Yom Tov? Moreover, why does the Gemara conclude that one is not permitted to extinguish a fire in these cases?
(Similarly, the Gemara teaches that the act of Mechabeh is permitted for other forms of Ochel Nefesh: When a flame is smoking and is going to ruin the food, one is permitted to extinguish the flame in order to save the food. Since Mechabeh is permitted in that case because of Ochel Nefesh, why is it not permitted for other purposes because of "Mitoch"?
This case, however, of extinguishing a flame in order to save food, is not actually a case of Mechabeh for the sake of Ochel Nefesh, but rather a case of Mechabeh 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 and KOVETZ SHI'URIM.
Nevertheless, "Mitoch" still should work to permit Mechabeh in all cases, since Mechabeh is permitted in the case of placing meat on coals, which is an actual case of Ochel Nefesh.)
(a) The RE'AH here and in the SEFER HA'CHINUCH (#298) explains that there are two types of Mechabeh: one form of Mechabeh effects a positive outcome (by accomplishing a desired result), and the other form of Mechabeh effects a negative outcome (by removing an unwanted entity). In the case of meat roasted over burning coals, one wants the juice of the meat to drip on the coals. In that case, one extinguishes because he wants to achieve a desired consequence, and not because he wants to remove something. The act of Mechabeh discussed in the Gemara here refers to the second type, where one wants to remove the flame but not to obtain a positive outcome. "Mitoch" permits only an act of Mechabeh which has a positive value, and therefore it does not permit the act of Mechabeh discussed in the Gemara here.
(b) The CHIDUSHEI HA'ME'IRI explains that in truth the allowance to do an act of Mechabeh on Yom Tov is not because of Ochel Nefesh. In this case, the act of placing meat over coals in such a way that the juice of the meat will drip onto the coals is not considered Mechabeh for Ochel Nefesh, because the dripping and extinguishing is not what one desires. It merely happens incidentally while one cooks the meat. Deliberately extinguishing a flame is never permitted for Ochel Nefesh, and thus "Mitoch" cannot permit it for other purposes.
The intention of the Me'iri is not clear. Perhaps he means that extinguishing the coals in such a manner does not constitute the act of Mechabeh mid'Oraisa (according to the conclusion of the Gemara), because it is done without intent -- it is a "Davar she'Eino Miskaven," and since there is no certainty that the dripping juices will extinguish the coals, it is not a "Pesik Reishei."
(c) According to the RAMBAM's opinion, this question is not problematic at all. 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 food preparation. All other Melachos, including Mechabeh, are permitted only for the sake of food preparation. Accordingly, "Mitoch" does not apply to them. (See Insights to Beitzah 12:1:d.)
(d) The ROSH (2:19) implies that extinguishing a flame for "Davar Acher" is not considered a necessity for Yom Tov. Perhaps his reason is because it is not an act associated with a specific need of Yom Tov. Similarly, extinguishing a flame in order to prevent a monetary loss is not an act necessary for a specific Yom Tov need.


OPINIONS: The Gemara discusses the act of placing incense on coals on Yom Tov, which involves the Melachos of kindling and extinguishing. The Gemara's discussion is relevant to a debate among the Acharonim with regard to the question of whether or not one is permitted to use cigarettes on Yom Tov.
Most contemporary authorities state that there is no allowance to smoke at all, even on an ordinary weekday, due to the established and documented health hazards which the effects of cigarettes and second-hand smoke pose to the smoker and to those around him. Nevertheless, according to those who do permit a Jew to smoke, may one smoke on Yom Tov? (This discussion is a summary of the issues involved and is not intended as a Halachic ruling.)
There are four major issues involved with smoking on Yom Tov.
(a) The MAGEN AVRAHAM (OC 514:4) cites the KENESES HA'GEDOLAH who prohibits smoking on Yom Tov because it involves the Melachah of Mechabeh, extinguishing.
In a lengthy Teshuvah, the DARCHEI NO'AM (#9) asks that the act of smoking appears to involve no act of Mechabeh, but rather an act of Hav'arah (burning). Any conceivable form of Mechabeh involved (such as diminishing the fire by squeezing the cigarette) would be a "Davar she'Eino Miskaven" and not a "Pesik Reishei," and thus should be permitted.
(b) The MAGEN AVRAHAM proposes a more basic reason to ban smoking on Yom Tov. Even if it does not involve Mechabeh but only Hav'arah, and Hav'arah is permitted on Yom Tov because of the principle of "Mitoch," the principle of "Mitoch" permits only an act which is "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh," which everyone enjoys. Smoking is certainly not something which everyone enjoys.
However, the PNEI YEHOSHUA (Shabbos 39b, DH v'Omer) and RAV YONASAN EIBESHITZ (in BINAH L'ITIM, Hilchos Yom Tov 4:6) write that this reason is not enough to prohibit smoking on Yom Tov. TOSFOS in Shabbos (39b, DH u'Veis Hillel) discusses whether one may enter a bathhouse to sweat on Yom Tov. He writes that although the act of washing the entire body is not "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh" and is therefore prohibited (see Tosfos to Beitzah 21b, DH Lo), nevertheless sweating is permitted because it is for the sake of maintaining one's health (Refu'ah) and not for pleasure. Similarly, the medicinal properties of nicotine may be grounds to permit smoking.
HAGA'ON RAV YISRAEL ZEV GUSTMAN zt'l was asked if this argument is valid grounds to permit smoking on Yom Tov today, when the dangerous effects of smoking have been proven beyond any doubt. Rav Gustman answered that any person who smokes convinces himself that it is beneficial for him. The issue of whether an activity is considered one that merely provides pleasure or one that provides health benefits does not depend on whether or not the activity is objectively healthy, but whether the person himself does it for pleasure (in which case it is not "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh" and is forbidden on Yom Tov), or for the perceived positive chemical effects that it has on his body. One who smokes presumably does so for the artificial calming effect of the nicotine. In that respect it could be considered "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh," because with regard to acts of Refu'ah what matters is the ultimate effect and not what causes that effect, as the KESAV SOFER explains (Teshuvos OC #64). Since everyone appreciates the sense of being relaxed, any act which provides 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 rational to consider smoking an act which is "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh." Since many people, and not merely a few, have the practice to smoke, the act can be considered "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh." The Bi'ur Halachah adds that this obviously applies only in a place where smoking is the accepted cultural norm and most people smoke.
The KORBAN NESANEL himself, however, prohibits smoking on Yom Tov. The fact that in a certain place most people smoke does not make the act "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh," because smoking is harmful 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 involved when there is printing or letters on the outside of the cigarette wrapper, and by smoking one destroys those letters and transgresses the Melachah of Mochek (erasing). Because of this concern, some people who smoke on Yom Tov do not finish the cigarette when it 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 does not circumvent the problem of Mochek according to the NIMUKEI YOSEF in Bava Kama (22a). The Nimukei Yosef rules that when one lights a fire, he is considered to have burned everything that will eventually be burned by the fire. When Rav Ruvel brought this issue to the attention of Rav Gustman zt'l, Rav Gustman said that those who act leniently may rely on the OR SAME'ACH (Hilchos Shabbos 23:2) who says that one who burns a book on Yom Tov is not liable for the Melachah of Mochek, because Mochek involves taking away the words and not the entire paper.
(d) The KORBAN NESANEL (loc. cit.) writes that even if no Isur d'Oraisa forbids smoking on Yom Tov, it is almost impossible for one who smokes on Yom Tov to avoid transgressing Isurei d'Oraisa, such as Hav'arah when he attempts to light the pipe, cigar, or cigarette, or when he adds or removes tobacco from a pipe, or when he taps the ashes off of a cigarette. (This may be the intention of the Keneses ha'Gedolah cited in (a) above.)
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 he transgress an Isur d'Oraisa), today's sages 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 one who smokes on Yom Tov acts reprehensibly, and "one who wants to honor Hash-m and his Torah should refrain from smoking for just one or two days (Yom Tov), even though his Yetzer ha'Ra might suggest ways to permit it based on the Shas."
However, most Acharonim (as cited by the BI'UR HALACHAH loc. cit.) rule that in a city where most of the people smoke, the act of smoking can be considered "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh" and thus one may smoke on Yom Tov. RAV MOSHE STERNBUCH shlit'a points out that nowadays, since even in places where people smoke they know that it is harmful to their health, and since in more and more places smoking is looked upon disapprovingly, it is very 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, HAGA'ON RAV CHAIM PINCHAS SHEINBERG shlit'a said that it is certainly not considered an act which is "Shaveh l'Chol Nefesh" and thus it is forbidden on Yom Tov.
Rav Sheinberg added that it has been proven that smoking is hazardous to one's health, and therefore smoking is never permitted, even on an ordinary weekday. (Regarding those who already smoke and who suffer from nicotine addiction, see IGROS MOSHE YD 2:49, and TESHUVOS V'HANGAHOS 1:316.)
Another interesting question raised by the Acharonim is whether one who maintains that smoking is forbidden on Yom Tov may 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 one person maintains that a certain practice is prohibited and he helps another person, who maintains that the practice is permitted, to do that act, he transgresses the prohibition of "Lifnei Iver." Therefore, one who maintains that smoking 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 maintains that the Halachah permits smoking but he personally is stringent and does not smoke, then he may light a cigarette for someone else who smokes.