ASK A BRESLOVER – Smoking Weed and Learning Torah

Hello, I have heard that some Breslovers use marijuana as a spiritual tool. And according to Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan it was an ingredient in the holy anointing oil.

So my question is since most likely the Jews of the temple time did smoke weed, and it was also considered something holy… can we in fact today like the rastas smoke weed and learn torah? Thanks

Answer by Ozer Bergman: What some Breslovers (or so-called Breslovers or Breslover wannabes) do, and what is appropriate, and what is likely to have been sanctioned by Rebbe Nachman zal, are not always the same thing. (Ask your local, competent rabbi if smoking weed is permissible.)

>And according to Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan it was an ingredient in the holy anointing oil.

Actually, what Aryeh Kaplan says is that “…some identify Keneh bosem with the English and Greek cannabis, the hemp plant” (“Living Torah” footnote to Exodus 30:23 [p. 258]). However, there are three other opinions (Reb Saadia Gaon, Rambam and Rashi) that he cites as to the identity of Keneh bosem. This is a far cry from being a proof that Jews of the Temple time smoked weed! :-)

> so my question is since most likely the jews of the temple time did smoke >weed,

Again, even if we knew this to be true, it doesn’t make it something we should imitate. After all, Jews in Temple times worshiped Baal and other idols — doesn’t make it right!

> and it was also considered something holy…

see above

>can we in fact today like the rastas smoke weed and learn torah?

Even assuming it were permitted (which I’m not), the question is: Is it a good idea? One of the primary goals of observing/practicing Torah and mitzvot is to have an ever-clearer mind. Does doing drugs of any sort bring one closer to that goal or not? Hint: Stoners are not known for clear thinking. See Likutey Moharan II, Lesson #26 where Rebbe Nachman zal talks about the ills of being drunk. Even though the high and head space of alcohol and weed (or any drug) are not the identical, they share enough similarities such that it seems likely that Rebbe Nachman would not have condoned drug use.

> thanks

you’re welcome.

Author: Yossi Katz

Yossi Katz currently lives in Lakewood, NJ where he runs the BRI American Office. He studied in Beth Medrash Gevoha, as well as the former Breslov Kollel of Lakewood headed by Rabbi Shlomo Goldman.

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6 Comments

  1. Keneh bosem was an ingredient in the holy anointing oil.
    1. Oil is not smokable.
    2. Thorah forbids to imitate temple-ingredients, or to use them in a profane way.
    (Like Nwuch Kadnetzar did; he surely is in need of some more moreh newuchim”.)
    3. Maybe we can (as remez,alegory) imply this to smoking tobacco as wel: In former days American indians only used tobacco in holy rituals. We are not supposed to smoke, if not taking part of a Pow Wow.
    4. As long as I am not a Rasta Fari, I am not to imitate rastafari-way of “worship.”
    (I am not sure if Marcus Garvey meant to lift up the African Americans by the way of smoking ganya.)
    5.Only Levites in charge of temple service used holy oil. The rest of Israel was not allowed to peform this kind of service. Nowadays there still are Levites left, even Kohanim (Leonard Cohen) , but unfortunately no temple, (may Moshiach help it to be rebuild as soon as possible).
    Diederik

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  2. common sense, how can one study Torah with the heart and mind when everything is clouded by smoke of anykind?

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  3. Well, besides that common sense is not as prevalent as we would hope, there is a school of thought that claims that “doors of perception” can be opened by hallucinogenics. As in Rebbe Nachman’s story The Master of Prayer, we will not elaborate on their reasoning, lest people be taken in by their fallacious thinking and live life wrongly. (There is such a danger because there is a tiny kernel of truth upon which their mistake rests.)

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  4. Another big problem is that pot smoking causes anxiety or paranoia in many, perhaps most people! And a feeling of anxiety or paranoia is one of the worst things you can feel, and completely opposite of the calm, happy, settled mind that is so valued in Breslov chassidut.

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  5. like david haMashiach says…grass for the beast herbs for the service of man

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  6. The only halakhic issue with marijuana is that IT’S AGAINST THE LAW OF THE LAND. Otherwise, one should not distinguish smoking marijuana from drinking alcohol; both are intoxicants with both dangers and benefits. However, one is permitted by the state and one is not, and one can bring a “bad name” to one’s community by claiming it as something that “should” be done by citing Torah as a source.

    Having said that, what is the etymology of the word “lebesumai” as used in the laws of Purim; “ad d’lo yada”?

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