The secret Jewish Cannabis History and Wisdom teachings of all ages

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Dare not to not do drugs: How Shlomo blew up his Torah

There's a problem in the larger Jewish community, a problem that arose as a solution to the larger problem, that of communal, societal death. The problem with this vaccine is that a) it involves danger of permananently changing the patient, in ways that they don't nessesarily want to change and b) it might involve some dishonesty, chas 'v shalom. Or worse, it might demand honesty about how bad the dying patient was in the first place, and how much it might be better if they didn't live, maybe maybe chas v' shalom.

The problem I refer to secondly is assimilation, which, like aids, can be lived with and through, is terribly infectious and culturally devastating and comes from getting intimate with Others. The Jewish corporate entity may not want to die anymore than anyone else does (itself a controvertible assumption i've heard argued against. maybe it DOES want to die, at least sometimes?) but some of the cells inside of it might want to get away and stop feeding the communal tantric deity formed by our co-mingling. Whenever the other world becomes more interesting or fun-derful, it's bound to draw us away from where we are coming from, especially if where we are coming from is So Bad. Which, god help us, the Jewish community has been to different people throughout history. Some try to say that the religion is bad but the community is good, some go the other way: either way, assimilation is the deadly virus at the end of Jewish history, that which will fufill the final messianic solution if bodydeath never comes. Because Rome is growing, learning and adapting all the time, because humanity is, and Judaism has to do no more than keep up? To the degree that judaism cannot be The New, it's only playing catch up with the social standard of the rest of the world, or else providing a much appreciated refuge from the Terrible New World. Mcglobalization isn't kosher makes Kosher a refuge from the shit that the rest of humanity is forced to eat, maybe ideally.

To The Degree that archaic traditional cultures remember the crucial steady good that the speedy, thoughtless pop present forgets in it's shallow and desperate youthful passion, it's the elder wisdom of Grandmother Israel, or Africa, or Itzlan, or Volkskeit or whatever tradition You (or your parents) left for whatever reason.

And so, the second problem is that which remindsyou of where you came from, and invites you home by Any Means Nessesary. By this, I refer to what's now known in the Jewish Velt as Kiruv.

Some have been very angered by the promises that mother told in order to bring us home, about what awaited, who we REALLY were, and what was really important. But how far will your mother go to make you feel safe at home?

Will she come to your parties? Hang out at the seedy pool halls you frequent? That would prove how much she cares, but it might not make her entreaties any less embarrassing, unless she can prove that she's COOL somehow, maybe.

And by COOL, I mean not just quietly accepting, but genuinely understanding, or at least genuinely open to understanding, why you are where you are, and what is the good you've found. Until she can do that, it's going to very hard for her to connect to her fleeing children. Can she do that honestly, even with a danger that she will be changed, even destroyed in the interaction?

Is your mom cool enough to smoke weed with you? Your "Rabbi"? Or cool enough not to have to?

In previous posts, I have mentioned R' Shlomo Carlebach a number of times. This is not to say that he approved of drugs, quite the opposite, he tended to view drug use as the failure to find any thing better to inspire the hippilach, a kind of late night cable tv to the happenning party he was offering.

That's not to say that he didnappreciate what drugs could do to sensitize people to sweetness and G-dliness. just that neither marijuna or psychedelics terribly interested him beyond a certain curiousity about what these kids were so excited about, his life was consumed by a very active and inter-human service.

I met someone once who claimed to know a guy who was Shlomo Carlebach's weed dealer. This person was lied to, because I know for a fact that Shlomo would not spend money on mellow drugs. He uses the parable of the Death Drug dealer to give over the secret of how not give tsedakah

Let's say someone comes to me and says,
Oh Shlomo
Help me out!

I need to raise three thousand dollars
To buy some drugs to sell to some kids
to kill them
Shlomo, couldn't you help me out?

What? Am I gonna say "sure, brother, let me help you out"
try to run off and to a fundraising concert.
What am I crazy?
If I do, i'm a murderer.

Chinese medicine uppers, on the other hand, he would use in order to keep going. The work was infinite, and there was always something else that only he could do, another reason to blow off sleep. Another person in need, another concert or appearance where to not go was to neglect an opportunity for some really crucial break through, often literally saving a life.

Intoxication did not interest Shlomo, not that kind anyway. He's the kind of person who would drink grape juice for kiddush, even as he'd exhort his disciples to be drunk yidden, drunk all the time on the awesomeness of G-d.

This is not to say that he never smoked, how else would hippies know that you were cool? The story would go, that as a joint would get passed around a circle where he was rebbeing, he would once hit it once, twice, and then the third time say: and once more in honor of Yaakov avinu. Or sometimes, just hold the joint when it would come to him, and then just start expounding, until some fool would say, hey man, pass that fucker! But it would be too late, the joint would be run to the bottom, and the torah music shared would make everyone higher than they'd ever been, ha ha.

In the Moshav Yeshiva, we would say when someone would draw out a dedication before a hit a leetle too long, or just start talking while holding the joint/bong, giving over some kind of Torah until they forget that there's drugs in their hands: hey man! don't Shlomo that joint !

But no, he was not into getting high or tripping, though he did do both, and his closest students will tell you that it impacted his Torah for sure. The shattering of the ego that lets Torah about holy arrogance or just the sublime oppositeness within every inyan come forth, that depends on two things: breadth of knowledge enough to draw connections between many different ideas, and a certain personal wild openness to, and experience of: G-d unity, in a way that is beyond ego games of Who I think I Am Supposed To Be, what I think someone like me should be doing. He talks in his torahs later about letting go of exactly those things, and as much as the knowledge of chassidic torah opened his mind, so much of that Torah doesn't make sense or interest unless the eyes have already been opened otherwise.

Berkeley freaked Shlomo on, and rather than back away from the challenge of growing in response to the people he was dealing with, rather than retreat into insular dogmatism like many kiruvnauts have done, he rose to the occasion and really learned the psychedelic torah as it came. And through that willingness L'shem Shamayim, he became the vessel through which god's voice would return to Israel.

R Nachman of Breslov was the last to come close to something like that, maybe hillel Zeitlin or R kook, but still on a lower level. There is no Torah like Shlomo Torah, and that is why he is the secret rebbe inside any jewish institution worth it's salt. Some fools think it's just some magic holiness in the music, which is bullshit she b bullshit. The music is only part of the context, the social wilingness to hear something deep, true, and piercing is the other part of the bris, and that's why Karleebach music, as the genre of lesser figures playing his songs, even on key or masterfully, is always a shallow, empty and powerless excersize in self indulgent communalization.

Not that drinking songs around a campfire isn't awesomely special itself, but don't think for a second that that was all that was going on. I'm sure it was sometimes, but what can you do for Jews who just want to feel good about jewishing?

Which is not the highest his torah ever got. There are tapes of him just giving concerts and telling the story of shvartzewolf or the holy miser or something, because a real tzaddik is willing to be whatever is needed of him, and will use that place to plant the seeds of recognition of the holy in people who wouldn't be able to ever notice it afterwards. The baal shem tov, elijah the prophet and their ilk make it potentially safe to be a mystic bum and at least be recognized in some communities as being a holy man as opposed to a threat, don't think i don't appreciate that. But shlomo's deep torah was only heard in the counsels of trippers with vessels.

That is to say, the chassidim smoke(d) some of them, e'en tho he'd gone as far as to strongly discourage herb once legendarily comparing it to Baby Diapers,

Out grow your diapers already!

Yet still some of the highest of his students toke(d) and certainly it was a step on the path to Him, and beyonder! Ya rabbeinu nagila!

(For sure to be continued, but not for a minute. meanwhile, I'm still in Northern Cali. feel free to be in touch if you are too!)


Blogger yitz.. said...

hey yosef, I just wanted to comment again on how well formulated and intense your posts are. I attribute it to your whole thing.. what you're doing in the world.. i'm just so shocked that i'm oblivious to it when I speak to you in person. You definitely keep everything really deep in there.

as a side note, i'm curious about your editing process, or does this stuff come out fully digested and organized from start to finish.. ?

3:05 PM

Blogger Yoseph Leib said...

Yeah, the editting process is inconsistant. Sometimes a piece is written, and then capped off with and introduction that explains the assumptions that lead to the "main" or original piece; that's pretty much how this one came.

Usuall it's just start writing whatever I wanna talk about, or have been thinking about. How much I go back and sew something depends on how interested I still am in what was being said.

And sometimes I edit while it's up. invisibly under cover of night.

6:15 PM

Anonymous donbonus said...

"...he was not into getting high or tripping, though he did do both ..."

Who told you that Shlomo tripped?

6:56 PM

Blogger Yoseph Leib said...

people who knew.

10:23 PM

Anonymous Hudi said...

i just want to be immersed in truth and in torah.... from where did rav shlomo find strength?

2:00 AM

Anonymous donbonus said...

In Torah and Truth.

7:14 PM

Anonymous hudi harris said...

yes I think your right, but still, tell me how so... is there any difference....

9:35 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Rabbi,
when do you get back to NYC?


7:53 AM


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