A Permissible Sin: Perceptions of Smoking Among Haredi Men in Israel

Shlomo Guzmen-Carmeli, Rotem Weizman, Tammar Friedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This essay deals with perceptions of smoking among Haredi men in Israel. Though trends in smoking within the Haredi society have been quantitively examined, no qualitative research has ever focused on the motivations and mindsets stimulating individuals’ choices to take health risks despite religious precepts to the contrary. Israeli Haredi men sometimes start smoking in their early childhood and are unmotivated to quit, and such circumstances should be examined. We interviewed 20 Israeli Haredi male smokers and overviewed the Haredi daily press and rabbinical attitudes toward smoking. Our findings indicate that Haredi men typically consider smoking as either permissible or, at worst, a minor sin. From childhood they view smoking as an expression of maturity, and moreover one which is associated with Jewish holidays and particular religious practices. Such perception relies on the Haredi establishment's normative exclusion of smoking from the Halachic commandments that aim to protect health. Finally, we illustrate key points to consider in paths leading to an intervention process to change these norms and practices.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Religion and Health
Early online date15 Mar 2024
StateE-pub ahead of print - 15 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.


  • Haredi
  • Health risks
  • Permissible sin
  • Smoking


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