Dear Rabbi,

I was wondering how the Jewish, and especially chassidic, mystical teachings would regard marijuana as a way of getting closer to G‑d.

Of course, there is the obvious fact that marijuana is against the law. But there are obviously some exceptions to what can be done for spiritual purposes that normally would be against the law.


Before your soul came down into this world, it was high. The ultimate high. So high, there was only one way she could get higher: by squeezing herself into a blood-and-bones body and coming to live down here on planet Earth.

Here’s the game plan: Soul descends and invests within walking, talking slab of collagen matrices (a.k.a. body). Body thinks for itself and doesn’t want to listen to soul. Soul feels trapped, oppressed, coerced into doing things it can’t stand. Soul reaches within to find hidden powers. Soul works with body. Gradually, soul refines body. Body becomes soul-like. Soul discovers its quintessential being.

That’s why the best way I know to get high is by sinking my head into a deep pot of chassidic teachings, especially a juicy Chabad-guided meditation (known as a maamar), thought processes to bring Kabbalistic teachings into the realm of human intellect, teachings about higher worlds, the sefirot and angels that seemed so “out there.” I let my soul try every way it can to bring this into my gray matter brain and to get my blood-filled heart pumping over it.

At the very least, I’m sweating it—all on my own power. And that’s where the high comes from: from reaching deep within, all on your own.

Who knows, maybe marijuana and other psychotropics open up the doors of perception for the soul. Maybe it gets a short relief from sweating away at its mission down here. But it’s a high that lies. And for the soul, it makes the long journey down here into a bad trip. “This is high?” she says. “For this I could have stayed above and been much, much higher!”

The real high can happen only by working with that body, not escaping it; by prying open the doors of your perception step by step, stretching its limits a little more each day; engaging your senses, limbs, heart, mind and stomach in beautiful, divine acts daily. That’s the path to getting high and staying there.

Like Euclid said about learning geometry, there’s no king’s highway to spiritual enlightenment. Or, to paraphrase Rabbi Ben Hei Hei’s oft-quoted words in the Mishnah, “No pain, no gain.”1

The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, once answered someone with your question, saying that the way of Judaism is “that the person should be the master over his or her self, and enslavement of any sort is wrong.” Psychedelics, the Rebbe pointed out, don’t provide that mastery. They usually provide the opposite.2

So here’s my recommendation: Get hooked on a one-to-one situation learning deep Torah teachings, and get real high. If you don’t have anyone in your neighborhood, you can click here to set up a study partner.

Check out our Jewish Meditation section, and follow the video lessons there. Keep digging in and you’ll find yet more and more, higher and higher.

See Response to a Casual Marijuana User from our selection on Judaism on Drugs and Narcotics.