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After receiving an authentic Havana Cigar from my Cuban friend Louis Koss, I was looking for a Torah lesson, before it would go up in smoke!

So how do you light a cigar? If it’s your thing, cigars can be very delightful. But lighting them? A nightmare!

Unlike a candlewick or cigarette, a cigar is a different beast altogether. The Cigar Aficionado compares lighting a cigar to toasting a marshmallow over a campfire – “bring it to the fire, do not bring the fire to it.” True, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. But we can derive a lesson in serving our Creator – even from a cigar.


If we are in a state of exile and have to create freedom once there, then freedom is highly improbable, if not downright impossible. If our realties are darkness and then we try to create light, it is so hard. But if our reality is light, then even when we come to darkness, sooner or later our light will prevail.

The key is to create and establish the light in one’s life, before darkness becomes the norm. Then, all we have to do is find that light and then we can remove the darkness.

[We pre-establish a state of life and hope in our lives by being well educated and versed in Jewish learning and always updating our depth of Torah knowledge on a daily basis. Having a home filled with Jewish books is vital in making this a reality]. 

And so this is the lesson from the Cuban cigar. To light a cigar, we have to bring the cigar tip into the vicinity of the fire and slowly rotate it over the flame, not quite touching the flame but toasting it with its heat. As the cigar slowly comes to the fire, it is ignited by it.

When we fill our lives and homes with Torah that becomes our reality to influence and transform the darkness around us.  


Two young rabbis from different congregations were old friends who shared a great fondness for cigars. Once each year, when they had a chance to visit, they would pray together and, of course, light up.

Eventually, however, they became concerned that there might be some sin in their habit, and they each resolved to ask their respective superiors for guidance. When they met again, one was puffing away.

“But the head of my school told me it was a sin,” protested the other. “What did you ask him?” said the first. “I asked him if it was all right to smoke during evening prayer, and he said that I couldn’t.”

“Well,” said his friend as he blew a perfect smoke ring into the air, “I asked my superior if it was alright to pray during our evening smoke, and he said it was just fine!”