The secret Jewish Cannabis History and Wisdom teachings of all ages

Sunday, February 04, 2007

next to last: halacha l' ma'asei

Hey. I'm back in Jerusalem for a little bit, the place my holy brother and comrade Allahuechad calls "The Land of Broken Dreams."

As if that wasn't the sweetest, greatest thing you could call a place!

My dreams, having been relatively flexible, seem relatively unscathed so far, lehefech, I'm really touched and inspired by some of the holy nonsense and half-sense alot of the kids out here are into and doing. It's been awesome playing with the local chevra, dancing with our minds and bodies, wriggling and writhing extatically at the strange comfort/discomfort of the boundaries we're working with around some of these parts.

And during this spectacular reinforcement of the dance-joy-torah I so value, some criticism and concerns about my conduct and explorations has come up.

Some friends (because who listens to enemies?) have expressed concern over two issues in my writing and living the last little while, namely concern that I am legitamizing-by-engaging "anti-semites" and treading dangerous water with my exploration of creative romantic boundaries. Both friends have expressed concerns that I am endangering my legitamacy through this.

Which I think is effing hysterical, because it implies that the Marijuan and psychedelic advocacy that i've been doing is perfectly respectable.

Which, apparently, it totally is in the religious Jewish Community now, at least as far as De' Youf' is concerned. Isn't that awesome?

This feels to me like a newish thing-- the respect and approval for marijuana that pretty much everyone I know of a certain age, whether they choose to smoke/trip or not, has. I engage a range of different communities, and i'll tell ya: it's pretty much across the board. From Monsey to Crown Heights, Detroit to Baltimore, Montreal to Williamsburg, Jerusalem and all of Israel, and lets not even TALK about California, everyone seems to be holding that Cannabis is at the least, not as bad as tobacco, and seems more effective than prozac or tylenol at making the world just a little bit easier to handle, without crippling any more than say, eating too much food.

Which totally gives me hope for the future of our people. I don't think the Jewish money organizations are in danger because of this, nor any of the thuggish militias and militaries under our communal hand. Lehefech, it might well save our lives and our souls, and create a context for the healing the wound of exile, that once compelled us to take some aspects of our lives waaay to seriously.

And by this I mean, money and control. It might well be good to take life seriously, if that's going to help children get fed. It's REALLY BAD to take life seriously if it means you have to beat your kids to make sure they keep shabbos. Agmas Nefesh, Moirah Shcoirah, they're all traditional terms in Jewish for feeling shitty, and as much as the drugs won't do ANYTHING to solve the root causes of our depressions and funks, JUST HAVING A PERSPECTIVE with which to look at the best and RELEASE the internal bonds whipping us and leading us to whip our spouses, children, animals, and slaves can't but help, right?

Sure, marijuana will not solve all our problems, only Brown Rice and Flax seed oil can do that. But what it does do very well is shift priorities.

Because drugs, like shabbos, can and will change you. Terrence Mckenna Z"L talks about his invenerete stonerness, and why he would smoke as much as he did (every day or so, which can be considered alot. That is to say, more than I like, for sure)

"It's just that... when I would stop smoking grass for a log period of time, i'd notice my priorities start to change... I'd start worrying about "how am I going to pay this bill" and "maybe I need a new house on the hill" or some such nonesense... and whe i'd smoke, my thoughts would be more like "I wonder what ever happened to the Lost Etruscan civilization?" or some new innovative way of programming a design."

Everyone one knows, harmony depends on offsetting extremes once they've gone too far.
What we need as people is not the advice to just stop doing drugs, it won't work any better than the "don't have sex" rule worked on the catholic clergies. We need guidance on how to make drug use holy. Here's some:

Marijuana. There's a principle in the talmud that anything that gives pleasure has to have a blessing on it, and so, there is one over fragrant herbs in the tradition, at least two or three, actually.

Most people I know say Borei Aisvei bsamim, thanks G-d, who creates fragrant grasses, because cannabis is more like a grass than anything else, growing and dying seasonally. Borei Minei Bsamim works too, i's more general, thans G-d who creates different kinds of fragrance.

Now, an issue is when to say the blessing. Before the hit make sthe most sense to me. The rule in the talmud re: incense is AFTER the first cloud of smoke starts lifting, but that doesn't really make sense with modern pipe, blunt or joint smoking, because you're using your mouth to hold the hit it, and there's also a prohibition on making a blessing with your mouth full. It takes the focus away, which is the oppoite of what blessings are for.

So, I like to make the blessing upon smelling the unburnt Ganja, either from the bag, or even from in the pipe, taking a sniff of the un-lit herb, and blessing beofre proceeding.

The blessing is less important that the dedication, which sets the focus of the hit and the high.

I don't kno how far back the "l'chaim" tradition goes, if it's a chassidic innovation, or not... but how could it be, when the irish do it also?
Before taking a strong drink, make ing it safe by dedicating it to some wish for a good world some how, for peace or passion, strength or style-- whatever you want the strong drink to do for you-- so too with ganja.

(UPDATE: I wrote R Yaakov Fogelman to ask: "where does the L'chaim" tradition come from? Surely it's pre chassidic! And he quickly responded:

"As I recall, Birnbaum claims that there was danger, in ancient times, that snakes,and scorpians were found in wine- so he who is about to bless God for the wine, first asks the assembled company, "sovrei," think, gentlemen- is this wine safe? If they think so, they respond with "l'chayim", to life, it's ok!"

psh! it's very deep. There ARE scorpions in drugs if you take 'em down too fast, without intention.)

While you're holding the un-lit pipe, all attention is paid to you, so it can a nice chance to do something holy if you want to-- talking for too long can annoy the weed hungry people in the circle, but a little dedication prayer can be nice. What DO you want to happen in the world? What do you want for yourself? For the sake of that, l'chaim, and then immediately light the pipe.

It's important not to expose the weed to too much fire too fast, because then, the grass will just burn away, and you won't actually be smoking that all much. Holding the fire JUST far away enough from the bowl that when you're not inhaling, it's not lighting, and getting the littlest bit of fire to kiss the top of the Green with the inhale is really the best. Because then you can actually taste the weed, and you don't overwhelm yourself with more smoke than you can handle, which will prevent coughing and accidental cough-blowing of the weed out of the bowl.

There's different traditions from here on out; I like to past the pipe/joint/blunt/bong as soon as possible, so the next person doesn't have to wait. The tradition of Luminaries like Sticky Green and Moshe L. is to simply take your time with your own bong hit, and just pack the next person a fresh one, to enjoy, wholely and peaceably. Both ways are holy.

it's good to respect silence when high, speaking only really important insights or real physical priorities (like: "take this exit off the highway, over here!" ) Words don't nessesarily work quite as well when stoned, although ideas and feelings can still be communicated... it's not a good time for abstract detail.

Night-time in general isn't, and marijuana is in the aspect of the moonligh: hazy and romantic. Don't talk too much, but feel welcome to open up and express the passion, as it comes. Again, don't get caught up in details within stories, feelings will move easier, especially warmth.

From there on, trust the body and it's needs, but not it's desires. Don't eat so fast, because you will not get satisfied-- it's better to fast for some hours after smoking, maybe do something physical like running around, singing, pouring your heart out before your G-d. sometimes just massaging your stomach, couphing and burping can be great.

Marijuana, Chrissie Hynde teaches us, is really good for helping to be able to focus on a task, but not for switching focuses. Try to have the focus set before you start smoking,and slip right into it after the high starts to set in. My cousin Andrew, when we first started smoking, told me that weed smoking is a supplementary activity-- it's usually not something you do by itself, but a way of highlighting another activity, ranging from washing dishes to playing guitar.

Mushrooms, LSD and psychdelics, on the other hand, are a whole other Zach.
(continued soon.)


Anonymous shmuel said...

I've only met one dude in person that said a bracha over his green and he taught me to say borei pri ha etz (although i no longer smoke cause i cant take the risk of going back to jail, and quite honestly i dont think i need it anymore, like i needed it back then)

he was working with the assumption that its a fruit, not a grass. what does one say over tobacco?(well, i guess, according to a lot rabbis, nothing, but im holding with the opinion that its okay still)
wouldnt it be the same as tobacco?

5:43 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i love you

please respond to this. i think you would be an amazing writer on the evolution of consciousness. come back soon. no stay i'll come there. in my mind, at least. let me into your courtyards, chambers on high. streets, avenues and midrachovs. havent been to jerusalem in five years. eternity in our speeded up time. is it still there. hello


12:44 PM

Blogger Sholom said...

There are two types of Brachos said in regards to Gan-Jah. Borei Asvei Bsamim is a Bracha of enjoyment; as such, it is best recited over a sniff of the unburnt herb.
The Bracha that I am accustomed to say is entirely different; it i a Bracha for a Mitzva, said prior to beginning the Asiya, the lighting of the sacred herb.
ברוך אתה יהוה אלהינו חי העולמים אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו להקטיר קטורת הסמים

11:29 PM

Anonymous dp said...

'So, I like to make the blessing upon smelling the unburnt Ganja, either from the bag, or even from in the pipe, taking a sniff of the un-lit herb, and blessing beofre proceeding.'

The halacha when pertaining to fruit says one shouldnt bless 'hanoten reyach tov lapeirot' of one plans on eating the fruit after smelling it, perhaps the beracha ' borei pri haetz' includes the smell as well.

re; bore pri ha'etz
grass is just that, a form of grass or weed.
It is an annual therefore if it were a fruit it would be 'ha'adama'
but it is not a fruit in any sense and actually produces seeds while it is flowering and never produces an actual fruit.
As well there is no ingestion of the plant save the aromas and vapors, therefore the only truly appropriate blessing would be 'bore atzei besamim'


7:17 AM

Anonymous LEAH KLEIM said...



9:23 PM

Blogger Sholom said...

It's not a fruit, that much we know. If you call it "treez", Atzei Bsamim; if you call it "grass" or "herb", Isvei Bsamim. no matter what you call it, you can always be Motzi with Minei Bsamim.
...And if you consider the smoking to be a Mitzvah, see above.

5:02 AM

Blogger mike said...

Hmm thats interesting.....


4:29 PM

Blogger Nathan said...

I'm sorry anonymous but the evolution theory has as many holes as there are in the universe. "If man was dumb enough to help each other in early times, then it was smart enough to take the help (with no return)."

10:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice! I always experience a very spiritual connection with Hashem when I imbibe of the fragrant flower (Marijuana is a flower but does also bear fruit). I wonder if the incense that was used by the Priest in the Temple during ritual was in fact Marijuana because of the conduit it opens within our mind, body, and soul. I wonder if that allowed the Priest a deeper connection with G-d.

5:23 PM


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