The secret Jewish Cannabis History and Wisdom teachings of all ages

Sunday, April 30, 2006

legalize marijuana, that what they say, hey.

hey, what's up true believers? guess what's goin on this weekend?

It's a big conflict for me this year, and, like other halacha vs. morality questions, it's more problematic in Israel.

You see kids, dope smoking is forbidden on the sabbath, except to save your life, of course. The World Cannabis March, a.k.a. The Million Marijuana March is the first saturday in May, and for a jew of the orthodox persuasion who smokes marijuana and cares for it's legalization, it might feel important to go to the cannabis march for the sake of solidarity with the cause of liberating God's creations from the yoke of heavyness and trauma. And so, in high school, I would dutifully walk over the Williamsburg bridge every first shabbos in May, to march in New York's Million Marijuana March, with my black hat and jacket, tie-clasp key strapped firmly to mine tie.

I later years, i'd get involved with the organization that put the march on, Cures Not Wars, certainly one of the most appreciated resources of my youth. has the local info for your local march, in whatever country or province you happen to dwell.

There's three in Israel this year, isn't that something? Tel aviv, Jerusalem and Eilat, oh my! I have no real involvement in the Jerusalem one, in Gan Sacher, and I wonder if I should even go, because it means something else to have an event here on Saturday, holy Saturday than it would in universal ol' America.

How much do I believe in Shabbos? So much, right? More than like anything, isn't that odd? How much am I to respect my own beliefs, how much to challenge them to duels to the death. I know Shabbos is deeper than the things we do to preserve it, and I also know that once those things are devalued, the priority flood gates rush open. If i'm not forced somehow to not work on Shabbos, I have no excuse not to work on shabbos.

Weed, reefer, pot, marijuana, lets say, as much as I love, I don't believe in the redemptive power of as much. I have not come to a theology where god rewards me for smoking grass, and appreciates the sacrifices I make in order to be able to nessesarily. I don't believe that cannabis consumption is inherently redemptive, a position I might have wanted to take at points in my youth.

And there is a school of thought like that in the psychedelic community, that the High is inhernetly divine, and You are Encharged to go to that place at all costs. Chayuv Inish libisumai, only that one day, is what we agreed.

"we", ha haha ha ha!

I love my loopholes, and used to dig getting high on shabbos from the shotties that gentiles would blow in my mouth upon being told of my situation.

"Hey. excuse me sir? Happy cannabis liberation day! I couldn't help but notice the phat blunt you've got there, and i'll tell you... I'm a religious jew, and cannot smoke on the Sabbath, saturday, nor can I even ask you for a hit or anything... But if you want to blow a shottie in my face, I wouldn't have to turn away."

What kind of stoner would refuse the chance to share in that? There are halachic issues with maris ayin, evil eye from people seeing him do this to me and somehow being led to think that he was actually doing it for me, as opposed to just, you know, blowing his own smoke where ever he wanted, but that might be secondary to the kiddush hashem of religious people turning out to be "cool" and supporting the movement.

It might still be a halachic problem, I don't do it very often, just when gentiles want to get me high for their own sake, do I have to stop them? It's more of a problem in public, I guess.

In Jerusalem, it's so loaded. One can only benfit from stuff done on Shabbos by gentiles, or those not chayuv in Shabbos... but in J-town, everybody's probably Jewish, so... supporting the movement is supporting Sabbath violation maybe.

Now... though I've been flirting with and talking about all sorts off anti-nomian values and ideas, i'm still inside, functionally orthoprax, and even though I might see the liberated future, I don't live there most of the time. To the degree that I will go outside of the boundary of the law, endangering perhaps my immortal soul, ha ha, as if, I have not unless it seemed really worth it. This is a general practical rule I tend to hold by, if you're going to risk your life, only do it for things worth dying for. Like, if i'm going to break a rule, it should be only if it's holier than if I had kept it, like the Yom Kippur Feast at the finishing of the Holy Temple construction, something on that level. I feel like g-d respects that more than just violation from sloth or convenience. It's really, really wrong to break shabbos for money, because what does that say about money? But to break Shabbos for love...?

I've known people who related to marijuana as a protective amulet, that as long as they had some on them, they were safe from harm. There are Rastafarian sects, like the bobo if I'm not mistaken, where death is seen as a symptom of sin or failure, and marijuana as a protection against that. It would be cool if that was how it works...

I was talking to a friend tonight about a controversial wedding we'd been to earlier that week. The teachers of the school that the bridegroom was learning at wouldn't go to the wedding ceremony itself, because of theological issues with how the wedding was done (they used the invocation "like the law of moses and israel" but all the blessings were done by a woman, and the wife-purchase thing was left out too.) One of the teachers, however, came for the dancing afterwards, and spoke publicly before the school to clarify and open up discussion about why he didn't go, and why he supports the love happening anyway. While he couldn't be a part of what was happening, partially because of a sense of being pressured into taking a stand to support the way it was done, partially because of his responsibility as head of the School, but how that didn't mean he thought they were wrong in doing it the way that they did it. Really, he supports them, their love and their decisions... he just can't be a part of the ritual.

Is that hypocritical? To say I believe that something is good, but can't actually be involved in it for reasons of the holy? maybe. But i'm doing that too. Jerusalem in Gan Sacher, this saturday at 4. Tel aviv, Eilat, i don't have the details here, but google aleh yarok or check out the affor linked and they should have everything you need to know.

do what thou wilt, right? ha

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

lineage pt 4: listen to the wind

So the Rabbi huffs and puffs, declares his desire to hit me, and how much he can't believe the uninhibited gall I have in telling him these things. I calmly insist that i'm still struggling with it all, and have to be honest about what questions and truths reveal themselves to me.

And then I ask: "What did I say or ask that was so objectionable?" I thought I was on potentially secure theological ground! The talmud disparages getting benifit from Torah, paying people to learn or teach it. Only a certain kind of gaonic loophole (Is it really only as old as the gaonim? anyone is welcome to correct me on this one.) allows a community to do something as strange and ridiculous as "hire" a "rabbi"! Which is probably alot of what the Rabbi was reacting to, the implication that the way he makes his money inhibits Torah education instead of encourages it.

Which might be the crucial unspoken issue. No one wants to hear that the way they're living is bad, unless they're looking for a way out of it themselves, which any of us living as religious people in this liberated epoch must not. Right?

"What am I saying that's making you so angry?"

You're saying that Charedim, religious people are wicked, that they don't do any good for anyone but themselves... Do you have any idea how much Chesed (kindness0 is being done secretly by frum people throughout the world?

(It was odd to me that that was what he heard from everything I was saying, leading me to imagine that his defences put a familiar, non-threatening criticism of the religious world in the place of a shtarker, stronger one.)

"Rabbi, that's not what i'm saying at all! Of course Yidden do so much chesed...
How else would the way we live be justified?"

"But tell me, do you remember what rashi says, for why a Chasida isn't kosher?"

To my surprise, he said, What are you talking about. I thought everybody knew this one? But I guess we only remember so much at a time.

"In the chumash, they're listing the kosher birds and the treyfe ones, right? R Yehoshua ben levi says, what's the pattern, what makes a bird kosher?

good birds are kosher
mean ones are treyfe.

Then what about the chasida? Her name means kindness! Why isn't she kosher?

And R Yehoshua ben Levi answers:

Why isn't the chasida kosher?

Because it only does good for it's own."

Which really pissed the Rabbi off. But it's a central problem, you know, we don't really have a universalist religion exactly. It's kept us from prostyltizing, but also from humanising the enemy sometimes, something I suppose event he most enlightened tribal cultures don't do.

It's great that all the shuls are so supportive of Darfur, and it's also a little convenient for us... Not too much internal changes involved in the censuring of a foriegn, Islamic government. Not too much looking at ourselves and where our wealth is coming from and such.

I heard Josh Lauffer quote Shlomo one time, why did the holocaust happen? Oh

the holocaust

Because the yidden didn't know how to listen to the wind.

If they had listened
they would have known exactly what our goyish brothers are asking for.

Because there is a counter tradition to the sacred lie, and has been the whole time.

It's not Torah from the people in charge of Torah, the "Gedolim" in the official sense. It's Torah from the rumblings of poor scholars, working in fields and streets, desperate for her majesty to show her face and wash the lies away.

More on that soon.

Monday, April 24, 2006

lineage part 3: Won't Know

Jerusalem confuses me with her inconsistant mystical peak experiences. It's NICE to be able to speak words that feel like they matter, like they inspire/clarify/bridge...
The most shameful feeling in the world is shallow attempts at depth and positivity. The feeling of lying for the sake of fuff and appearance... and we do it very often, because who wants to ruin the show for everyone? who wants to look like just they just don't get it.

I love the rebbes, I might be spoiled by their Torah, and i will not say that I don't care, that it's worth it... have I been saved to come to another, better, truer perspective? I have not been willing to identify with many other paths as much as I have here, and perhaps I'm lying to say that I want to or could leave Jerusalem for long. for long.

But My Family, What do I owe them? Nothing. Love. Communication. What gates wish to be opened there? What better God am I serving in the meantime?


So, in an attempt to talk with the Rabbi about ideas and maybe see where we agree and where there's difference in understanding, in an attempt to hear something new and challenge my old understandings, in the hope of hearing something new from someone old, I ask about Kotsk.

R Hutner was really into kotsk apparently, as well as the Vilna Gaon and the Maharal.
I mention the Kotsker to the Rabbi, and he mentions the Maharal. I pause in the hopes that he'll just expound from there, but no dice. So I go on asking things.

"Why was R Hutner so into these people in particular? What was it in their torah that he noticed, or was connected to?"

What do you mean? The Rabbi asked.

"Well... Kotsk is a very different kind of torah, with maybe very different priorities..."

The rabbi tried very hard to listen to what I was saying, an anguished look of concern on his face for what terrible thing I might say at any given time.

He was very supportive of me when I was younger, and had trouble in school, at least as ar as encouraging my expression of the difficulty. I once wrote I really scathing piece about my yeshiva in seventh grade, I forget to who it was adressed, I think it was for school, but it was reacted to very poorly by whichever teacher or administrator recieved it. The Rabbi, on the other hand, applauded me for it, saying it was important and showed a real love for Torah and a demand for it to be taken seriously.

I really have no way of knowing if he ever did anything from his position of power in the Day School system to do anything about it, either one way or the other. There could be any number of favors he's done for me and/or my father, from helping me get into one school to keeping me from being expelled for another. I wonder...

He suddenly got very open, something for which I eternally give him credit. Please note that none of what I'm describing happened at all the way i'm remembering it, let alone the way i'm describing it. This part of the conversation is very dreamlike to me, and i'll list the three things that may have been said. Either:

Well, you know, what's R Hutner looking for? What's his torah about that he's not satisfied with just Rashi and Poskim?


Why do you think he was into the Torah that he was?

something like that. The next thing I remember is me talking about the mystery of lineage, and the new Torah being revealed. The frustrations with the limits of the Torah in "our time" and the mystery of Moshiach Torah, how much are we allowed to live it?

Which, come to think of it, has been the central question that i've been wrestling with since Dovid Hertzberg passed on.

What are you talking about, Moshiach Torah? Everyone knows there's only one Torah, what Moshe gave, what was passed down through the Chachamim throughout all generations, that's all the Torah we have!

"Well... in some communities, they seem to be wanting to learn from the students more than from the Rebbes... Like Kotsk, like Pshiske--"

But in all those places, they were learning from a Rebbe! The KOTSKER REBBE, THE PSHISKER REBBE-- They all had their Torah, coming FROM a REBBE, TO a DISCIPLE!

"What about the Baal Shem Tov?"

He learned from Achiya Hashiloni!

(Achiya Hashiloni was a biblical figure in the times of Rehoboam and Jeroboam. He appeared to the Baal Shem Tov as a spirit guide, revealing unto him... all manner of things, including What kind of shabbos G-d likes )

I shrugged, as if to say "well?" He bristled and huffed.

"Well, sure, they had schools, but they were trying there to find a better way, to get Torah more directly from G-d. Didn't R Pinchas of Koretz say, after the Baal Shem tov died, when they asked him to be the rebbe, didn't he say: Why can't we all just be friends? Isn't that what the Kotsker was so angry about? That people were depending on him for Torah, instead of just listening to what was being revealed by G-d?"

the only teachers I ever had who really were on the level were the ones who wanted not just to give something over as much as dig something out together... The ones desperate to hear what G-d is trying to tell us."

"I'm concerned... what if we've been using Torah, the way we've been learning it to avoid what G-d is trying to tell us?"

(There is a well established theological reasoning, involving the revelation on Sinai, and Chaim Vital's introduction to the pri etz chaim, arguing this point. It's probably one of the central teachings in Berg's Ashlagian Kabbalah, the repression of the true Torah through the revealed revealed Torah, by the way. But i never got to tell the Rabbi about that)

What are you getting at!? He demanded, enough with side points and nonsense, just come out with it, what are you trying to say!

The question surprised me, I thought I was being pretty straight forward. What does he hear?

Yoseph, I don't understand what you're trying to say. In fact, I don't understand how you even think. I don't understand what you're getting at at all. What are you asking?!

"I think maybe you understand all too well what i'm saying. There's some crucial problem with how Am Yisrael is relating to Torah and Mitzvos that is keeping us, maybe, from what Hashem wants us to do, wants us to know."

He took this to be an attack on orthodox Haredi Jewry, a dismissal of all their good works and an assault on their charachter. He berated me for not knowing anything about real judaism, for talking about communities and a lifestyle that i've never seen or had access to. Which seemed odd to me, because, y'know, he was responsible for all my primary Jewish education, summer camps and kollels included.

I was struck by the need for the assumption of my ignorance in order to devalue my message, instead of engaging me. I was reminded later, as a diplomat, and fundraiser, the Rabbi is master of conflict resolution and peaceable, non-confrontational ways of making peace between people.

And so, once again, he opened up.

Yoseph, you have No Right to have an opinion in Torah, No way of understanding any of what you're trying to talk about at all. You have to go back and Learn Chumish and Rashi, and A daf Gemuhruh, learn how to read a Daff Gemuhruh like a memnch, and then maybe after years, you can start to learn some Kabbalah, after you've learned first what it all means. You know who you think you are? Jesus Christ!

(Which is the worst thing a jew can be accused of being, with the possible exception of Hitler, arguably a figure with a much less threatening theology, at least as far as understanding.

Yehoshua Witt once, after the beit Simcha shul in nachlaot was vandalized by some pious folks with the words "Yeshu!" on the door, said to one of his sons: Anyone they want to hate, they call Yeshu.

Once you're Jesus, jews can't hear what you're saying anymore, because, by definition, he's saying that judaism and the Law don't matter anymore, at least not the way we thought they did. "I am here not to revoke the law, but to complete it"
That is, when the Christ speaks to you, you understand in your heart what the Law was trying to teach your mind, and all the layers of protection and insurance become revealed as irrelelvant, unnessesary. The shell is discarded as the fruit becomes ripe, overripe.

What if we're the shell, pasted up and tied over the living fruit, long since ripened, soured, fermentd? Or salted, left to sit forever?

More on the mystery of the Messiah to come
Plus, the secret history of mine lineage, because I don't think this shit up on my own. I would never dare.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

hey. I've been wondering for a while why no comments were showing up. Then I checked the moderate comments box today, and wow! Y'all may wanna scroll down the page, some of these are really insightful, interesting, and direct you back to some charming people and their blogs. thanks for writing, and i'm bound to adress a bunch of these points that people brought up soon. You guys rock!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Lineage part 2: Is he cool?

Hassidic reggae has been going on for a while in some communities.

When the chevra at Jerusalem camp first got turned on to the Nyabingi tradition at the National Rainbow Gatherings in the early '00es (aughty aughts?) we really felt touched and annointed as part of another ancient tradition returning to it's source within us, and it's a powerful reminder: Whatever lineage you're in as far as one thing, it isn't the only one, and as a higher and closer connection to God/Truth manifests itself, it must be accepted the moment is understood.

It's a big problem, the degree to which fear prevents learning, fear that the lesson will be too much and wrong, but be believed anyway, but something precious and irrevetrievable will be lost in the transit. How do we make people feel comfortable understanding us?

Law is for the sake of protection against death, be it organizational death or personal. All lineage is about keeping something alive, through (secret) laws and regulations. The small and tribal was embarrasing sometimes when it became clear, our Law is holding us back from the World, and becomes precious when Their Law fails to include us. This is why and how reggae music has penetrated the mass culture, creating an almost universal subculture. Based, somehow, on the ancientest of tribal party traditions with the bible language, as trustworthy and enfaithed as the word of G-d itself in so much of the worlds collective unconcious mentality.

My acid test for how do I know if a Yeshiva is real, if their devotion is really the truth of G-d and his revelation to Us when I first came to Israel is how do they relate to Marijuana. So Much of and and why we trust rastafarian priorities as opposed to spooky Christian ones (as if they were different at all on paper) is that the weed smoking proves that they're cool. Not accepting the Big False Law, that claims to save us from death but really only demands death; whether someone, even without smoking, approves of Mans Right to Grasses determines to many of us that they value freedom over security, just enough to not actually endanger, but enough to think and see what does not really threaten us from nature.

Because much of nature really is threatening, or was before we got it under control, as if. G-d gave us all the seed bearing herbs, but the truth is, we never could trust The Other in nature. We are in danger of being eaten, and as long as we're not ok with that, as long as we're running fucking and/or fighting, we have hope of being forever, as if we didn't already.

Why do religious hippies ever feel justified eating meat? In Judaism, we have a tradition that the cow is so happy to be subsumed in nourishing a higher lifeform, that's cleaving to and searching out God and Joy in a way that it in it's narrow conciousness could not have. Mammels eat Mushrooms and through them can grow so much, or die, if they eat the wrong one. Isn't that so weird?

I once had a girl I met at a String Cheese show, we fell in love in a vulnerable psychedelic desperate openness to the divine revelation of SomeOne else. Her dad was jewish, as if to tell me that she was not, and in a state of messianic trust, I gently went with it to see what we'd learn. We never had sex, only because of her piety, not mine, and once I came out to California to visit her. She was telling me one time she was talking to her Grandmmother about me.

"I told her, hey, I'm like going out with this guy, he's a Chassidic Jew.

And she said, what? aren't they really religious?

And i'm like, no grandma, he's cool, he... smokes weed.

It didn't work out. We couldn't quite surrender to each others truth, we both loved our God pictures too much to give up either our infinities or our particularities. She held very strongly by giving up everything, I felt that it wasn't so honest to think that we ever had, or were willing to usually. And so it goes.

Next Lineage pt 3: Y'know?