The secret Jewish Cannabis History and Wisdom teachings of all ages

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The truth is
I don't need food or drugs as much as I have done either both
On some level.

When life is so fufilling
neither is attractive,
when I'm in love and it doesn't hurt
Or when it hurts, and i'm so happy to feel
I don't need drugs

I love that there is an alternative to hurting and bitterness, and
I would love to live in a world that didn't drive me crazy all the time sometimes
I appreciate
the things that satisfy and sweeten
in the least destructive way possible.

Is the least destructive sugar
Raw Honey:
dries and cleanses but still
rots teeth.
Maple syrup:
is cooling, but alas!
dampness is not healthy for me anymore

Sugar makes me slow, sad, weak, fat
and once I trusted it so much
back when I was a child

when it's good
slows and speeds
burn out is No Fun.

I can't feel the world anymore when I smoke too much weed
I have smoked too much weed sometimes.

Lord! give us strength and sense
to know when too much is that
and to realize when the sweets that once saved us
is too much
and let go of needing that
to make me feel ok

Not the suffering, and not it's reward?
Lord! give me a heart to love pain
and fear not death
to be aware
of why I consume,
and have access to the best consolations ever

extra to share
and enough will to refuse
save me from the karma of fucking people up
or over
or under
or just leaving them behind?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Even where marijuana has been legalized, do the dangerous side effects of the drug militate against its use?

Does compassion for the patient override concerns of possible longterm harm?

Under which circumstances may a patient put himself into a potentially harmful situation?

If the non-medicinal properties of marijuana promote a feeling of wellbeing so that a patient feels relief, does that constitute a valid reason to write a prescription?

A historic halachic responsa offering the best argument for the halachic priority of medicinal need superceding the dreaded Dina D'iMalchuso's cannabis prohibition, in a sober and pious way.

Our regard for civic obedience and responsibility
may indeed be a yardstick of our ability to sanctify God's Name
and be a light to the nations.

Because marijuana is an illicit drug,
one might assume that it is halachically prohibited, as well.

dina d'malchuta dina does not apply to matters of issur v'heter-
obligatory or prohibited activities, such as Shabbat, kashrut, inheritance or divorce. It applies only to monetary, commercial or civil law,
and not to religious law.

Since alleviation of pain and suffering is a religious obligation,11 then dina d'malchuta dina does not apply.


some poskim [rabbinic decisors] stipulate that dina d'malchuta dina is only binding when it does not oppose Torah law,
i.e. only when it relates to matters not dealt with explicitly by the halachah.

Rabbi Shlomo Ibn Adret (Rashba) cautions us that the Torah is of primary and paramount importance for the Jewish people.

Were we to defer to the law of the land to regulate every activity, we would effectively nullify much of Jewish law and abrogate the Torah itself.

However, to rule a certain way because it is the law of the Gentiles is forbidden, and it is prohibited by the Torah. If we were to accept this argument, we would nullify the first-born son's rights of inheritance and uproot all of jewish law. What need would we have for holy books written for us by Rebbi and Ravina and Rav Ashi; Jews could simply teach their children the laws of the Gentiles and build altars in the Gentile houses of study.

God forbid that such a thing ever happen to the Jewish people; God forbid. The Torah itself would wear sackcloth.

There are those who suggest that dina d'makhuta dina applies only to dinei malkhut, i.e. those areas in which the State has legitimate interests needed for the proper administration of government and for the smooth functioning of society. These include taxes, roads, traffic regulations, safety, etc. Laws that infringe on the social, interpersonal, judicial, cultural, religious and personal areas of life are excluded from dina d'makhuta dina and are regulated by Torah law.

Who is this guy writing?

"Dr. Wallace Greene received his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Yeshiva University and has taught courses in Ancient and Medieval Jewish History, Rabbinics, Talmud and other Judaica at Yeshiva University, Queens College, Upsala College, and Columbia University. ...he presently is Director of Jewish Educational Services for the United Jewish Appeal Federation of Northern New Jersey. Dr. Greene has given hundreds of lectures across North America on a wide range of topics and for a broad spectrum of groups and is author of dozens of articles on topics related to Jewish education in publications such as Journal of Jewish Education, Jewish Book World, Jewish Education News, The Jewish Week, and the Journal of Jewish Communal Service"

Sounds like a legit source to me. But, having scanned google, looking for discussion of this statement, haven't found any public controversy over it. The legend at the bottom of the page implies that it was given over by an American Jewish Congress summer event. I wonder how it was received? I hope mentioning it here doesn't get him in to trouble, he sounds like arighteous, g-d fearing fella. Check out his response to religious concerns over collegiate assimilation. And his kids to the third generation are religious, bli ayin hara!

Casuistic and philosophical arguments can also be mustered to nullify dina d'makhuta dina in this case.

State officials will not prosecute patients who use medical marijuana, and the prospect of federal enforcement is fairly remote. This then begs the question of defining dina d'makhuta dina in our case.

Does it refer to laws on the books or only to laws that are enforced?
Logic would dictate that dina d'makhuta dina only applies to laws that are enforced.

Just as a king is only a king if he has loyal subjects, so too laws that are not enforced eventually lose their status as laws.

At issue, however, is still the question of the feasibility and advisability of a physician prescribing marijuana. In those states where it is legal there seems to be minimal risk. In states where it is still illegal, how far must an observant physician go to help alleviate pain and suffering by prescribing marijuana?

Sunday, August 06, 2006


mail bag! Today, I get to play advice columnist, encouraging people to destroy their lives and souls with drugs, as opposed to sex.
Kidding! Right?

Hey Yosef,
I really like your blog a lot ,and I have a question for you.

It might be kind of heavy.
I just started becoming observant (like 3x a day tefilah observant) and I have run in to a problem. I'm also pretty observant of getting high all the time.

BUT. I've been having trouble really praying from my heart when I'm stoned. Do I just need to get used to it? Do you pray whilst high? Or is it meant to be interfering, because your thoughts should be clear blah blah blah. Funny thing is, I can daven just fine when I'm drunk. I don't really like being drunk so much though. I haven't yet tried while on hallucinogens. That seems like it might be a little scary.

I really like the stuff you have to say. I find it very insightful (at first I wrote "inciteful" which isn't a word, apparently, but I think it might be kind of also what I meant) and inspirational. I hope you maybe have some advice for me. If not that's okay, and you should be well anyway.

The prohibition of R' Moshe Feinstein on smoking grass depends on three things:

It damages your health

It's illegal

It takes you away from Torah learning.

TO THE DEGREE that these three things are priorities, marijuana would have to be contraindicated.

We were looking at the text of the early cheremim (bans/excommunications) against Chassidis, which some in the community have said should be studied as halacha, to see what chassidus was about, and how we should live. One of the major gripes that one of the cheremim lists is the fear that the Chassidim were making it out as if davening and cleaving to G-d was more important than learning Torah, which, they dare say, is only for the sake of making davening and cleaving to G-d possible!


One would have to follow then, by that priority, al pi chassdut, if marijuana makes davening hard for you, then it's assur for you. Buut, if you wanna be a Litvak like Rava in the gemara, ridiculing those who spend much time in prayer, then it's not a problem, as long as it doesn't inhibit your learning.

Some "rabbis" have even gone so far as to say that any Torah learned while stoned "doesn't count" because it's "not real" whatever that means. I really don't hold like that, but it's important to recognize the natural limits and powers of different medicines. As much as we'd like to treat it as all redeeming, all improving, marijuana is not nessesarily good for everything, though intention can be very powerful in guiding what it can do for you.

I've had some powerful hodaah/praise/appreciation moments from smoking grass, usually as the clouds of however ?I was feeling lift off, and some new clarity sets in. But for me, it's always been a little unpredictable. I've known people who really liked smoking either right before hallel, or, alternately, right before the reading of the incense offering, either at the beginning or the end of the service.

Some say only at the end of davening, being careful not to "eat" (smoking is a form of consumption) before shacharis, though there are lots of stories of Alter Chassidim smoking after birchos hashachar, after morning Shma but before ketores and Psukei D'zimra. One might want to assume that may have been Levi Yitzchak's style, though maybe not.

Marijuana tends to make whatever one is doing while smoking more interesting, but makes it harder to switch from one action to another. Chrissie Hynde from The Pretenders of days of yore says smoking while vacuuming makes vacuumoing better, but smoking while sitting on the couch makes vacuuming harder. Hamayvin Yaavin.

I like davenning stoned sometimes, though it's a great breslov discipline to daven under the influence of nothing, satisfied by nothing, firstish thing in the morning, without even have drunk any tea or coffee.

One of the major effects of being High is a profound sense of satisfaction, which naturally can make davenning less compelling. While one might get benefit from playing the game of getting stoned, and then rallying the conciousness back into sensitivity through strong effort, it seems rather besides the point to me: If getting high makes davening difficult, don't get high before davening sounds like good advice to me.

It might depend what you mean by davening, I guess. Davening a proper Shmoneh Esrei is assur when one is drunk according to the shulchan aruch, and probably the gemara. How drunk? So drunk that one can't stand before a king.
Get it? Ganja, though often treated as such, is not a pancea, and demand to be used only in it's right time.
I like making L'chayims on hits, setting intentions on what the healing to come from this smoking should be. Some Native American tribes are very into praying over the pipe or cigarrete, and if it can be holy, great. But no reason to force it to work together.

Marijuana has been good for me in processing information, not in receiving new information, so I avoid it when doing things that i'm not used to, or learning how to do better. I'd gotten in some trouble in High School getting stoned before a film criticsm that I was to present, in the hopes of stoney insights coming. Instead, it just made it hard for me to remember what I was talking about.

Drinking is a different whole trip. Drinking opens the heart to be willing to express truth without fear, even to itself, and as such can help with hisbodedut, with living interactive telling-g-d-how you really feel prayer sometimes.

Although, i've had charedi friends who for years would make themselves pattur (absolved) from all mitzvos by just being drunk all the time.

I have a practice of rarely smoking during the day, unless it's way cloudy and i don't need to use my straight head. Being high all the time, ideally, maybe shouldn't have to depend on any substrate to set it off, although i'm told it's very difficult for any one who doesn't eat brown rice at all to be really happy.

Now, davenning while tripping is something else. I have a thing sometimes of doing shma while tripping, to set the trip off a bit or just to make soemthing cosmic happen. I have had really good succes with this a few times, opening up profound insight into the different things Shma is saying to the children of Israel, and relating differently to the voice of G-d revealed therein. But that's probably because i'm very comfortable and familiar with the Shma, though I am kind surprised to get to it in davenning sometimes, and see what it actually says. It seems radically new and powerful in some of those ritual moments, so...

R' Zalman Schechter Shalomi wrote long ago about his first trip, where he opened up a siddur expecting the words to jump off the page, and was disapointted in how dead the davening felt to him. He lalter atributed that lack in inspiration to a lack of relationship to his davenning, a lack of real developed connection with the words he'd been saying his whole life. Welp, better late than never...

It might be scary, especially if it's new, the davenning, and mystically dangerous. Once you start the bracha, you're locked in for the ride, and it might even be possible to exempt someone who's already tripping from davenning, because one is not chayuv to say a full shmoneh Esrei on the road, for fear of theives or attackers, be they internal or external. I heard from R' Shaul Nelson some years ago a gemara saying that one is puttur from davening for three days after a trip, because their daas, their awareness is not yet settled. On that basis, if you wanted, you could skip davening in order to focus on the trip, if davening isn't part of it. Except for krias Shma, which you could only skip on your wedding night, or at a grateful dead show, as learned out from the Meis Mitzva described in the first mishna in brachos. Look it up, you'll see what I mean.

Shma while tripping is pretty harmless, I'd have to say though. It's not so long, it can lead you into more davening if you want it, or be a nice place to get off and focus on each letter and how it feels on your tongue, and hear the sound of the language first forming and spinning off in different directions, from settled in a place to going on the road, with little signs by your heart and mind to bring you back home whenever you're lost.

Which, it occured to me one time, might be alot of why davening in a minyan and wearing tsitsis is so important: If someone's lost from their people, it's an easy way to find one of us again, and be able to get help to find their way back home.

But yeah, bottom line, we don't have to smoke weed all the time, and maybe the less we do the more powerful it is when we do. Like sex, not having any can be terribly frustrating or terribly liberating, depending on how much we though we needed it to feel whole doing anything. And taking time off, especially regularly, makes the time on so much more meaningful.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

What a g-d wants, what a girl needs.

In my travels this summer, I got to meet some amazing people.

In one town, there was a beautiful river at the end of an arborium, with a foot path built leading into the river. There, past a certain point, the rocks have been arranged to create a heart shape river flute, leading the water in subtle harmonious song.

He claims to have been instructed in this task by his god, personally, at the same time as he was given the gift of tongues. He would pray in both english, and a tongue language that would seem to include hebrew, aramaic, chaldean, arabic and myriad other ancient languages in it's expressiveness. He was given this too by his god, along with many lessons every day.

He spoke about humility, learning that one cannot control G-d's will, only pray in deep faith and listen for what will come. We'd been learning the Inyan of Tzaddik Gozer, Hashem Mikayem for a little bit the last little while, and he responded to that idea with a very humble: G-d will do whatever he wants to do.


God tells someone to be quiet and stop talking about whatever they're talking about twice. Once to Moshe Rabbeinu, and once to Truth itself.

Moshe Rabbeinu is very troubled over the mystery of G-d's will. He wants to know it and recieve it as clearly as possible, but while he's up There, taking it all down, he's troubled by a big question.

Why do some Tzaddikim suffer and some Rishaim flourish?
Which is an extention of a larger question,

What really pleases you?

Which, on a darker level, is connected to the functional half of religion. The real question, the cynincal buisness man within might say is:

How do we get what we want?

Tell us clearly, the honest buisness man sweetly and respectfully asks, what it is we have to give you in order to get what we want. If we let you check our ingredients, turn on the fire, THEN will you buy our product?

And on a very tachlis, heady level, this is what Torah and Mitzvos are for, right, chas v' shalom? Rain in it's season, protection for our children and friends, food and clothing.

And everybody knows and feels this deep down. When we're children, we can have whatever we want, and if we don't, we cry. We explore to see what's worth wanting, what's worth tasting. And if we're not fed, we feel ourselves dying.

At some point we're told that we will only get the things we want, we'll only get fed the food we want, if we complete some tasks, accomplish some service, or, at least, don't do the bad things that piss mommy and daddy off. Ask the "right" way, and anything can be ours, right?

Moshe is coming before G-d, having learned all kinds of right ways to do so, and finally having been invited a little bit in, to ask for what he/we wants. And he asks the infinity question in response, what can we do to get hwat we want?

He has learned to phrase the question in chen and kavod, in charm and honor, how to do it exactly right. And he's told a bunch of things, one of which is, you'll never get it right, and you'll never have a flat way of knowing what's on my mind. "i'll do as I see fit" we learn in brachos.

Moshe asks about the crowns on the letters, what are these for? What are we supposed to do with these? And Hashem tells him, don't worry, someone will come along who will learn things out of them. As if to say: someone will come who understands it better than you, the delicate, strange ebb and flow of my will.

How? By dying horribly and happily. R' Akiva sees destruction and has learned to be consoled by it, sees good people suffering and has learned to see the virtue in it. Moshe Rabbeinu not so, "this is Torah, and this it's reward?"

As if to say maybe "is this what we're working so hard for?" If Torah and tzidkes doesn't earn your protection and master your will, then what good is it? I thought we had a deal: We do the good in your eyes, and you do the good in ours."

To which G-d says, Shut up! That's how It came up in thought. That's how we want it.

The Gemara in Brachos asks the question, why do some tzaddikim suceed, some suffer, some Reshaim suceed, and some suffer? Because if suffering in this world is good, then great, lets do that, if that's enlightenment, but no! Some Tzaddikim don't have to suffer. And if success in this world is a sign of divine protection, then great, but why do some Reshaim suceed and some fail?

So they answer, it depends on totality. A tzaddik gamur only suceeds, and a total rasha only suffers, they say. What does this mean?

It occured to me that it has to do with grace, What G-d Likes, which changes all the time sometimes, as the ebb and flow of what's cool to G-d changes, as the balance tips in any given direction, as g-d's dark side is charmed, as is bright side is charmed.

The Torah is to help us understand, feel and relate to Hashem's struggle, maybe. His struggle to learn what is it that I really want, now and/or forever. To the degree that it can do that, it's really torah.

Aaaron Genuth mentioned to me seeing in Moshe Idel's book on Chassidus, Between Magic and Exctacy something that surprised him, the idea that amongst controversial innovations of the chassidic movement was calling the things that Rebbes were giving over "Torahs." As if any new Torah could come down since the gemara!?

The Chassidim of the maggid justified this by claiming a gemara somewhere that described Torah as being something with seventy faces and seventy interpretations, saying that anything that was given over deep enough to mean seventy different tthings in different contexts, that's called Torah, and the words of the Maggid surely apply.

So is Tisha B'av mourning or moshiach? Once again, all we can do is listen for what Hashem wants today. Please lord, bless us to be with you in your will of what time it is Right Now, and how you want us to live. Please help us indulge our truest desires, in the way that only you can: with the wonderuful things that we cannot control, only appreciate when they come. Give us hearts to know when to accept the good, and when to be as unsaisfied with it as you are.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

If I was a scientist
I would put all my effort,
and the effort of my friends
into building a sustainable
solar powered air conditioner

This has been your stoned thought for the morning.