The Taiva for Drugs is the Taiva for G-d: what Shlomo noticed
So we were talking about Shlomo.
It's really such a miracle that special people ever happen. In some ways, they're born special, priviledged and chosen by their surrounding and families, their land and their cultures. In other ways, it's all work and choices.
But not only do the choices special people make say something about the person, the other way around too, the people making the choices says something about the choices.
This is one of my big arguments with my mom about marijuana: if i'm smoking it, and I'm as smart as you insist I am (thanks mom) doesn't that say something about the choice in question?
There's an Ishbitz torah like that too, about the aishes yifas toar. Anything an Israelite is drawn to must have something really good at it's root.
And so, Shlomo was drawn to California. What did he recognize, I wonder?
Something was going on, where kids and people were pilgrimiging in from all around the world to share and seek, everybody knows, but what made that first possible? All the gurus who went, it was after soemone told them that something cool was going on.
But how did that start?
Shlomo first grew up in Baden germany, but that scene was shut down when he was just a kid. He grew up largely in Brooklyn, learning his loveable ghetto english from the local negroes, giving him his "hey, brotha!" amongst other speech and style inflections, till falling into the lakewood Torah void.
How did Shlomo first get involved in Lubavitch?
One night, at the end of an acid trip at a string cheese incidnet concert, I came to a house party where some ex-chabadskers were hanging out. It was sweet, warm and intimate, and we started singing some of the deeper chabad niggunim.
I'd had a profound physical dance experience earlier that evening, and after it was over, I needed deep refuge. Profound physical dance meant that night that my body was then different forever, new things being possible on the dance floor, and a strong rush of seemingly infinite might continues for as long as my soul will keep going with it. I went into a breslov trance of ungiving up, even as I looked for somewhere warm and safe to be able to come down safely.
Hashem's wonderous coincidence brought me to a ride to the engagement party that i'd wanted to go to, and when I arrived, it was into a lovely little heart circle, where someone started a niggun, arba babot "the four grandmothers."
Still tripping, just a little, having finally slowed down the body enough to Sit and Feel from the inside a little bit. And the music we were being invited to make felt so---
The couple getting engaged were Russian-Americans, very aware of their heritage, the glory of Russian culture and Moscow. The show I had just come from gave me the impression of having been some profound cosmic event, largely because it was the introduction of this band to the center of the civilized performance world, the Garden of Madison Square.
We've been moving this whole time, all the wter, all the brilliance and the peak of the world where the widest appreciation and the deepest fun is happening. And it was clear to me, singing this chabad niggun, why Chabad was so important: once Russia was the capitol of the world, where the radicalest innovations, spiritual, philosophical, political and otherwise were happening. War, hunger, and the end of fun moved the divine presence from there, but there was a time where G-d was receiving orders from the high people there, and sending back brilliance in return.
And that's a big part of Chabad's awesomeness. I maintain strongly that the Ikkur Smicha of Chabad is not the Torah, but the music. The music gives over the Torah in a way that the spoken words don't do as honestly and purely.
And let's be real for a minute, alot of the draw of Chabad amongst the scholarly and the non-scholarly, was the ambiance. The vodka was sacramentalized because when it's cold and your heart is dying, it will save your life, and the last Rebbe was wise enough to try to curb it a little before leaving the world, because it's no longer so freaking cold everywhere Chabad is anymore. It's an international organization, in very little danger of being killed out the way it once was, and still annoints those who wind up at the right tables with the secret of how to get high in the holy, a musical tradition that gives people amazing power to go very deeply inside their own wordless hearts. From what i've seen, the kids are able to graduate to truer higher sacraments once exposed, and thanks to what they learned from the rebbes, have some kind of language to deal with the psychedelic realms.
Mind you, the klipah of Chabad is the degree to which this language can inhibit transcendance of this language, trapping people in a world of behamis vs. Elokis, gashmi vs. Ruchni, Heart vs. Mind, and all other kinds of falsehood and malarky growing out of a sacramentalization of word idols at the expense of what the words were there to show you.
And that's why Shlomo left Chabad eventually. He grew up secure enough in his Judaism as the son of a confident community head Rabbi that he could make decisions and trust intuitions about what G-d really wanted without having to take a rebbe's word, and was able to discard organizations and paradigms when they would get in the way of what seemed to him the true service that needed helping with.
And so, Shlomo went on to greener pastures. He'd become aware of the light shining onto northern California during the Berkely folk festival in 1966. In Rabbeinu's own words:
Then, in 1966, the greatest thing happened to me. I was invited to the Berkeley Folk Festival. There I saw all these thousands of young people who the world condemned as being dope addicts and I realized that they were yearning for something holy, and their souls were so pure, awesome! The festival began on Thursday morning. On Friday morning I announced that tonight I'm going to the synagogue and any one who might want should join me. I thought maybe ten or fifteen people would show up, but over two thousand came to the small synagogue.
I thought that the people at the synagogue would be so happy that they came, but the president called me up and said, "It was the most disgusting thing that ever happened." We had people staying and celebrating Shabbat till four in the morning, studying and singing, and then the way that the synagogue responded was a shame. So I realized I had to have my own place. So we created in San Francisco the House of Love and Prayer and until 1974 they were there and then many of the best people there went to the moshav in Modi'in in Israel.
And so is encapsulated what is and will be remembered as one of the seminal transformative episodes of Jewish History. Some will deny this, and deny Shlomo and his Torah as just another fad in Judaism, but what can you do for ignorant people?
The implication of this paragraph is clear, though: What brought Shlomo out from limited Chabad mediocrity into his own higher deeper and more immediately useful Torah? Dope Addicted kids who seemed really interesting to him.
There's the degree to which the Rebbe gives smicha to his chassidim, and the degree to which they give smicha to him, as is known. Shlomo's Torah only came into itself at the House of Love and Prayer, and only from there was he able to go to Israel and create the neo-chassidish norm that would capture the imagination of both religious and secular Israel. A torah that liberates the self to trust the self, piercing criticsms of the horrible failures of religious jewish communities, things strangely obvious yet often utterly invisible to religiously filtered senses.
When I first went to Israel, I was utterly fascinated by esoteric Kabbala. Then After a year, I was like, shouldn't this Torah be making me a better person? More useful to the world? And I started to notice, the Torah that made me do that was only Shlomo, and maybe R'Nachman, when filtered through the right person.
Next: The voice that speaks to the dope addicted masses, crazy people and children, and an ending of sorts.
(update: scratch that. we'll come back to that one in time.)