The secret Jewish Cannabis History and Wisdom teachings of all ages

Sunday, January 23, 2005

first seed sacrifices

A bunch of folks in different blogs and places have expressed the concern that I shouldn't fall into a classic stoner pattern of writing inconsistently. I guess this is a pattern folks have seen with alot of good work over the years, good ideas that started in moments of inspiration and died in puddles of nevermindwhocaresmanamihungry.

Let me clarify something here: I am not a stoner, at least not in the decedant sense, at least not usually... I don't think i ever crossed the functionality line with herb, except very intentionally, usually for either experimental, devotional or celebratory puposes. I'd rather be inspired, healthy and awake than stoned.

All plants and all medicines are in the aspect of tiferet, harmony and balance, and their use depends on the individual extremes that the individual is trying to heal.

I heard from a noted underground Jerusalem Kabbalist the idea that marijuana is only a fixing for Kayin (Cain) souls, those rooted in the universe of chaos, the folks that Robert Anton Wilson would call Neophiles. The passion for the new, the instability and ennui can benefit from the effect of cannabis. Souls from the universe of order, Hevel (abel) souls do not benefit nessesarily from the shake up of Johny Blaze, usually tending to become uncomfortable, tired, paranoid, or otherwise disturbed when smoked out.

I had been very Chaos-ed since the frustrating soul bottling of primary mandatory education, my continuing Jewish education being too infintie and demanding for most any kind of pre-meditated imposed curriculum.

The first Yeshiva i tried in Israel was
Bat Ayin. They'd had a reptuation attracting and inspiring diverse, radical and devoted searchers of torah, with an emphasis on not telling people who to be. I tried it out, for like a week and a half, having just come back to Israel from a rather embarrasing return to my parents house, having blown alot of their money and hopes for my acedemic future. Self-righteously, i insisted on going back to Israel to contue my education, with a vow to not get into any situation where I'd have to be dishonest about who I was, what I was doing, and what I was looking for. That commitment in mind, I went to Bat Ayin.

Some three years earlier it might have been all the crazy things I wanted most. Co-founded by one of Shlomo Carlebach's most devoted and earliest disciples, who had freaked out of society and gone on dead tour with the Spinners cult in the early eighties before settling back into a now blown open re-understood Judaism in Jerusalem, Bat Ayin had once been a motley crew of wild eyed Anglo mystics, drawn to the primal ancestral magic of Israel for the resolution of their soul's passions and for some way to live witht he presence of G-d.

Some guys form the early days there would later wistfully tell me about the early days there, with the giant pipe smoking wizard painted onto the local Yishuv store, when they would have a big ganja plant growing behind the Yeshiva, and the chassidic-hechalotic-Enochian torah was flowing like wine...

Then there were the purges. To avoid police coming down and either shutting down the yeshiva as a drug and anarchy den, the straight administration there put a foot down on all so-deemed innapropriate behavior, and expelled anyone there even suspected of hippying around too much.

I got there around six months after all this. I was eighteen and honest, and came there to check it out. Very impressed by the library and the comunity, by the views and the relative closeness to Jerusalem, I very upfrontedly, went to the Rosh Yeshiva as he was interviewing me to see if I should be there and casually remarked:

"Ah yes, ah, you know, I'm tring to organize a million marijuna march in Jerusalem in May, and I may need to take sometime off school for a month or so before hand to do so. I hope it's not going to be a problem..."

No, you can't talk about marijuana or any other drugs in any context while you're out here, oh, alright. Thanks anyway I guess.

I would come back a year later, in an attempt to become "serious," and would then find out that here were other easons why I could never be there. In the meantime, I had to find somehwere new to sleep, because the weather was getting colder, and there weren't too many free rooftops in J-town.

I wound up crashing by some mad Kabbalists from England and Arizona respectively who I had met in the street. I knew that I could not stay by them for long, that my welcome was bound to run out faster the more often I was around, and I tried to delay the inevitable by crashing at someone else's house every night for as long as I could either make new friends, or bump into old ones in time. It was a pretty effective social strategy, introducing me to pretty diverse and fun situations and teaching me the topography of Jerusalem as i explored all those parts of it that I never had or would otherwise. Bored Litvish yeshiva bachurim amused by the novelty of me, zionist gutter-punks with their parent's out of town, homeless men with spare blankets on their rooftop villas...

One night a friend of a friend of a friend agreed to a trade: a puff of some super kind bud i'd brought back from the states (a small and precious stash) in exchange for a place to crash. he had no place of his own, so he snuck me into HIS friend's yeshiva dorm. he snuck me down some back road into a part of town i'd never seen before, into a wood gated yeshiva. It was three in the morning, and when we came into the sanctuary, people were sitting up, learning. One of the strangest sleeps i would ever had, where i kept waking up feeling mysterious presences and gazing out to the door, I woke, got up and out, and by the time i was a block from the place, looked back, and couldn't for the life of me imagine how to get back where I'd just come from...

It was one of those weeks where every day feels like hundreds of years of growth and development. I've become strict to make sure to have weeks like that every so often ever since, especially in the summertime.

One night. I'm walking back to The Guy's house with some groceries. If I bring food, maybe he'll want to have me around more. It's pretty cold outside, and I peruse zion square to see if there's anyone there I know. Sure enough, this one head, an American Yeshiva kid from Queens, runs up and asks, hey! where are you living man? You've got groceries in your hands, so you're probably not on any kind of structures program!

Aha, excellent deduction Dr Watson! Yeah, I got kicked out of the program i was on like a month ago, so i'm staying by this guy's house...

No shit? I just got kicked out of my Yeshiva this morning!

He then told me a condensed version of why he got kicked out. He basically was on a rehabish type yeshiva program for "lost" youth, and he got caught with dealers amounts of grass in his room. I later heard the more complete story from a mutual friend who was in the program with him. They guys in the room, unrepentant herb smokers the lot of 'em, used to stash the grass they'd get communally in a hollowed out hard cover book they kept in their room. One day, the head of the program walked past their room and saw a book with the cover mysteriously bulging for some odd reason. he opened the book, saw like a pound of Bedouin Shwag, and demanded to know, "whose is this?!"

Our boy, with charachteristic righteousness, stole the accountabilty from the community and said, "Rabbi, it's my weed!"

The rabbi responded, just yours? If it's just yours, why is there so much?

"Cuz i was gonna sell it, and make money!"

Sure, enough, he was given a two week suspencion, so as not to distance him too far from the program and it's rehabilitory hopes, but to make him put his life into perspective. they gave him the option of a free hostel he could go to, but the dude knew, if he went there, he'd be monitored and reported on. Fuck that, said he.

And so, i, touched by his story, took him aside, puffed some Hawaiian kind bud with him that'd i'd been saving up, and took him to the anarchist office hang-out of Dov Shurin, with hopes of finding a place to crash for us both amongst any of the Israel street folks. We get there, and there this traditionlly dressed gaunt breslov rabbi there giving a class on a piece from Likutei Moharan, the collected writings of R' Nachman of Breslov. I'm already a fan of R' Nachman, his "believe everything" torah having won me over, so i sit to listen intently, while munching on fresh strawberries with my friend. I look around and notice that no-on else is around, really. Cool, maybe someone'll come by, or something. Allah will provide, inshallah, Allah will provide.

Sure enough. Completely uninitiated, the Rabbi comes up to me and my friend and says, hey, if you guys need somewhere to crash, you can crash by my house, my wife's out of town.
He then gives us what turn out to be pretty complicated directions to his house. We follow them, into kind of a spiral pattern into a secret neighborhood smack dab between the old city, the city center, and Geulah/mea-shearim, a neighborhood known as Musrarra. Worn old arab houses sylishly built and sparsely populated, we come down some strange public staircases down into the court yard, until we get to the rabbi's apartment.

We knock on the door, and someone else staying there lets us in. The house is sparsely decorated and the smell of burnt olive oil candles fills the place.

The house is decorated only with Divine names, noteably that one, you know the one, the one with the four letters. Tetragramtrawhatchamacalit.

Yo. Hey! wha? Hey!

It's big and it's small. it's backsward and it forward. upside down and mirrored, spiralled into shapes. Simply inscribed in parchment in traditional black ink, colorfully printed out green on purple, pink on green, gold on silver and visa versa.

The orange and blue felt the best to me, that night, personally. Green on purple would be the one i'd find my self using second most often, next to good old white on black.

Framed in glass, laminated in plastic, the unpronounceable holiness surrounded one everywhere there, comfortably, playfully. A few other divine spellings were around too, noteably the 46 and seventy-two letter names, thoughtfully placed on a shtender in the kitchen for contenmptation.

I crashed gently on the sofa, my friend getting a bed in the other room. I woke up, at dawn to see the rabbi modestly sneaking out for dawn prayers. I went back to sleep and later reawakened. The rabbi got back around like nine, and said hey! I do an english language shiur down at a yeshiva around the corner. Wanna come by, check it out? Sure.

Turns out it was the same yeshiva i'd been snuck down to earlier that week. What a coincidence. Founded by a Morrocan devotee of a European chassidic master, the afformentioned R' Nachman, it was a surreal experience of pious freaks, mostly Israeli, escaping society to study, pray, scream and cry, dance and laugh at the government's expense. A legally anarchistic scene, held together by fanatical religious hang ups, clearly prescribed in the writings of Rabbeinu Nachman and/or his disciple R Natan, It was kind of a dream come true for me. People somehow initated in the secret path of Kabbalistic understand, of what's really going on in the world, and ready to teach me what all the practices i'd been keeping my whole life meant and did and where capable of doing.

Believe anything, and anything can happen. The problem with that, is what do I really want to happen, and do I really believe it can? deep down? I'm pretty sure the function of any kind of devotional acts, especially the more demanding ones, is to convince ourselves that we've "earned" it. We've earned G-d attention, and the right to demand that he affect reality somehow. And, in most tradtional societies, it's been kinda effective, ant least until some stronger force blows the tower down. But that too is Ok, it's part of the process, of G-d listening to you, and asking in return that you listen to hear what she really wants. Believing in the power of the devotional acts to thaumaturgically affect reality is, problematically, the key of both all religion and all idolotry. What Rabbeinu Krishna calls being attached to the fruits of the service instead of the service itself.

Jah don't blame you, nigga's need to get paid, need the rains to fall so's we can eat our grain and basically, money a.k.a. divine authority to decree reality, is the traditional motivation to get children to do stuff, like wipe their own asses and clean their own room so you don't have to.
Maturity is learning, not just to do the right thing, but ultimately for the right reason: pure love.

Which was emphasised at the Yeshiva, make no mistake. Don't practice kabbalah to get power, this is folly and even if it works, won't heal your soul, they emphasised. The true purpose is just to be able to do in love, everything, in rapturous joy, the true purpose of creation. The rhythm back and forth between expanded conciousness and awareness of the divine that we all love so much, and how to deal with the constricted conciousneess of small minded priorities and ego-games in a way that still bonds us to the divine, or at least keeps us from getting bummed out...

Heartbreak was very encouraged, crying was very encouraged. Depression and angst was not.
Silly jokes, just to lighten the mood, very encouraged, even if they weren't, techinically, funny or even intelligent in any way.

You see why it would be a good stoner enviroment.

And good medicine for the wounded soul of Israel. Forget your realities! Forget your weakness! God is One, and the most important thing is not to be afraid! We've been really hurt the last while, and we're not going to come out of our tribal shell until we feel safe again. And we're not going to feel safe as long as we keep seeing threats in the world, from people who want to hurt us.

And people aren't going to stop indulging our mythology and being our Amalekites until we stop being afraid of them. Vicious circle keeping the pattern going. It works for our authorities, keeps eveyone scared enough to keep moving, keep working.

I spent six months in Northern Humbolt County not smoking grass because i was in a comfortably anal Zen Shiatsu and Integrative Nutrition program, learning grounding and balance in a Tai Chi context in order to give Zen Shiatsu massages effectively, with reall presence and sensitivity. And i will now reveal the secret danger of marijuna, the one that neither High Times nor The Partnership for a Drug Free America ever told us about.
It's pretty much the same problem as masturbating or talking too much: the depletion of your very life essence!

This might explain why it's not used more widespreadly in traditional societies, except at the fringes. Traditional chinese medicine has apparently eschewed it, as has much of Ayurveda, occasionally prescribing it for like insomnia or something, but not really at all for people wanting to achieve Satva, or a balnced, clear perspective, free of extremes in one direction or another.
I tend to think of the biblical prohibition on Joe Israelite using the sacred annointing compound, on penalty of death. Any of the individual oils in it weren't prohibited, or else cinnamon would be totally anethema in the west, but the compound was because, hey, cannabis cinnamon cassia oil is some pretty potent stuff. If you're a Levite Shaman (or "Kohein") and your job is basically to bring peace to the world through blood and insence, your lifestyle is already a bit disconnected from normative reality, and ritual ablutions of psychedelic oil make sense. You're not trying to be a human being, you're not trying to live to a ripe old age, or stay connected with the grittier details of life. You're a half dead sub-tribe, phantoms with no landshare of their own to ground them, hovering over the camps, and living off offering left by individual tribesmen.

Why is the modern Israeli government so harsh on psychedelics and their users? For the same reason the rest Babylon is, right? It's a good reason. They fear our weakness. Their afraid that once it's time to get back to work or war, because the winter is coming or the Amelekites are coming to raid our supplies, that we won't be grounded enough and connected enough to physical earth to recognize the danger until it's too late.

In the city, I love marijuna. Drugs are for when you're trapped, and there really is no other way out.

There's a great chassidic story, from the school of Pshische, in Poland.
The headmaster there, the holy Yehudi was talking, late one night, with his closest disciple, R Simcha Bunim.

When the messiah comes.

The three days before, Elijah the Prophet will come and announce it

And three hours before
Everything you know will be shattered
All the forces you depended on will be taken from you, and destruction and seeming doom will
take over your world

Your God is not the god.
Your messiah is not the true messiah
Your redemption is not the true redemption

And only those strongest in faith will be able to push past that, into the next hour. In the next hour, even your language fails you, everyone.
There is no god
there is no messiah
there is no redemption
there is no hope (chas v shalom!)

and other such terrors fill the heart of the once-believer
And until the very last minute, no-one can survive through it intact, without being broken, utterly broken, to recieve the new world. This is why the messiah has never quite come, we have never strong enough to handle the nessesary pain. But how can any of us survive the terrible pain, to want enough to be able to push through to see the better world?

Ah! said R Bunim, I've got an idea!
I'm an apothecary! I can just mix up some herbs, get really wasted, and just be totally medicated during the three hours! Then, by the time i start to sober up, the better world will already be here!

aha, said the master

That is a good idea.

The whole trick
Is knowing when to dose.

Too early
and you've poisoned yourself for nothing
and weakend the power of the medicine for when you need it

The whole secret of intoxication
Is the mystery of when.

In Traditional chinese medicine, it's called Jing, in Ayurveda, Ojas. The life essence that fuel our physical existence; we get a certain amount when we're born, and though it can be supplemented, it can never be replaced, and when you run out, that's the end. In the bible, i think it's called Koach, or strength, as in , the strength left his loins and that kind of thing. If anyone has a better traditional jewish word for physical life essesnce (not blood or energy, but like, a white fluid, associated with and equated with sperm) Maybe Ohn, as in Reishis Oni (Reuven is not only the firstborn, but, according to rabbinic traditon, also the first time jacob ever ejaculated) ?

Anyhow, there's a principle in the mishneh somewhere (can anyone be a better scholar than me and get sources?) that people are given only a certain amount of words in their lives, and that the more they just waste words by talking for no reason, the more they waste their very lives.
Compare to eastern ideas about jing/ojas being depleted by excess talking. Traditional reasons given for the prohibition on masturbation "letting your seed spill on the callow earth" incude losing your hair and getting weak, unfocused and unmotivated.

Does that sound familiar? Snoogans.

Excerpt from Paul Pitchford's
Healing with Whole Foods

"marijuana has been shown to dramatically increase melatonin levels. The traditional chinese medical view of such psychoactive substances is that their "high" results from large amounts of transformed ojas/jing essence being being sent to the brain through the aciton of the substance, in which process the ojas/jing of the kidneys is depleted. It may be that science is confirming part of this traditional belief, as melatonin may be considered an element of the transformed ojas/jing essence."

Compare with this excerpt from
Cures-not-wars .

"Of all the known ways to stimulate melatonin production, none is more dramatic than smoking marijuana. Marijuana stimulates production of a prostaglandin called PGE2, which may relate to its ability to stimulate melatonin production. Italian researchers discovered that when eight men smoked a cigarette containing the active ingredient in marijuana, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), they had dramatically higher melatonin levels twenty minutes later. After two hours, their melatonin levels were 4,000 percent higher than at baseline

The fact that smoking marijuana is accompanied by a dramatic increase in melatonin production may explain some of the drug's positive effects. A 1995 article in The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that the hallucinogen is being used to counteract the toxicity of chemotherapy, treat migraines, reduce intraocular pressure, minimize pain, treat menstrual cramps, and moderate wasting syndrome in AIDS patients.(
12) Melatonin has been shown to ameliorate each and every one of these conditions.

Smoking marijuana as a vehicle to increase melatonin production, however, may not be a good idea. The increase is so marked that it is not likely to be beneficial, especially if one smokes marijuana during the daytime, when melatonin levels are normally so low that they are just above the level of detection. Causing such a dramatic surge in melatonin levels in the daytime could phase-shift your circadian rhythms or interfere with your health in other as yet unknown ways...

Yes, talking, smoking, drinking and coming, do seem to disspate life. Does that mean don't? No, life itself dissipates life, If the purpose of life was longevity, we'd all be faliures.

It cannot be emphasised enough: the purpose of life is Life! to create and rejoice and make God feel like wow, maybe it's worthwhile after all. The main responsibility of the Israelite is to bring joy to the world, and we must never lose track of that. There's a buncha things that jewish tradition encourages dying for, mostly under the category of Kiddush Hashem, sanctifying G-d's name.

Is your smoking, talking or ejaculating sanctifying G-d's name? If not, you may want to, if not cut down, at least re-contextualize.

R Mordechai Yoseph Of Iszhbitz says, an easy way to know if what you're doing is worthwhile, is to ask your self:

If i had to die to do this, would it be worth it?

If not, you can make the nessesary adjustments, if in perspective or if in action.

For god's sake, just make/feel your life worthwhile. That's all.

Next: tu-bi-shvat special. Happy new year!


Blogger jerusalemgypsy said...

Wow. D'var Torah with ATTITUDE. I like it. It's fascinating. Wish my rabbis would have taught me shit like this.

10:42 PM

Blogger Yoseph Leib said...

they're waitng for you to teach it to them. That's why they're so insistantly lame, it's their way of saying "won't you please teach me something better? In a way I can accept it?"

1:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The cannabis is an interesting topic, I see that you speak about it. Visit this cannabis, maybe you will like.

4:42 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


some deep words of wisdom here ... i loved reading this ... I thought quite a lot about the idea contained in your text,

"talking, smoking, drinking and coming, do seem to disspate life. Does that mean don't? No, life itself dissipates life...

It cannot be emphasised enough: the purpose of life is Life!"

Yes you're right. And this purpose is demanded of everyone and everything in the world. This is quite a comforting thought - just living itself is fulfilling your purpose! Further, everyday is sapping you a bit more of your vitality and youth, but in kind you're receiving wisdom and experience.

It reminds me of a quote from one of my favourite authors, Henry Miller. He said :
"The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware."


2:05 AM

Anonymous Yoda said...

Ha. You're talking about Moish!

1:31 AM

Blogger Douglas said...

I think you should link the vignettes into a novel. It makes wonderful reading, satisfying the urge for confirmation in the genuine search for wisdom/love.

1:37 AM


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