High Holy Days

In Israel they won’t be passing many dubbies this Passover. The country’s pro-pot Green Leaf Party ("Aleh Yarok") has sent a mass e-mail to its members warning that hemp-related products may be a no-no for those who keep Kosher during Pesach. According the party’s spokeswoman, "we are considering announcing a ban on everything containing hemp just to be on the safe side. We are going with the rabbis on this. People should remove all cannabis and hemp from their homes." Oy Vey!

from the Washington Post

What! Israel has a pro-pot political party? Who knew? Actually, when the Dowbrigade was there last, 37 years ago, nobody was smoking pot. They were too busy smoking hashish.

But apparently times have changed, and cannabis is not Kosher during Passover. But wait, this is Israel, and these are the Chosen People, and things are never that simple. One of the good points of Judaism, to an independent cur like the Dowbrigade, is that it, like Islam, has no Pope. No ultimate authority, Papal edicts, definitive ruling or excommunication. Just like the factitious schools and sects of Islam, in Judaism every Rabbi has his or her own opinion, which carries weight directly proportional to his or her reputation and respect in religious circles. We decided to investigate further.

The first thing we noticed when we arrived at the marijuana story page at the Jerusalem Post was the huge banner ad at the top of the page for Rudy Guliani. Interesting, that the ex-mayor of NYC is courting cash and favor in the Holy Land. What’s up with that?

Anyway, the JP reports that :

Of the dozen rabbis whom The Jerusalem Post questioned on this issue, none offered a conclusive statement about how hemp should be classified for Pessah. As Rabbi Daniel Kohn of Bat Ayin explained, the issue ultimately boils down to an individual decision by each rabbi about whether hemp seeds themselves could be considered edible. If a rabbi decides that the seeds are edible, then hemp – and, by extension, marijuana – would not be considered permissible for Pessah.

"There is no problem with hemp clothing, and of course, anything that is taken for medicinal purposes would be fine," said Kohn. "Many would look at it like cottonseed oil. There are a variety of opinions. If one considered it edible, then it is included in kitniyot."

from the Jerusalem Post

Ya gotta love it. As in any true system of relativistic morality, it all depends on how you look at things. If you consider the seeds edible, then it is not kosher. But hashish has no seeds, consisting of the resinous excretions of the unfertilized female plants. Even when pat is cooking into brownies, cookies or cake, the stems and seeds are meticulously removed, and only the leaves and buds are cooked and eaten.

Furthermore, it is unclear whether the prohibition applies only to eaten cannabis, as opposed to the smoked variety. Of course, if it is not Kosher, you are supposed to remove it from your house. Does that mean you can go out and smoke it in the bushes?

Obviously, the Rabbis can go ’round and ’round on topics like this one. It could keep the Sanhedrin buzzing for weeks. Any Rabbis who are also members of Aleh Yarok could get lost in the discussion for the rest of their careers.

Everyone knows that Jews love to argue. No one could argue with that, except Jews.

As far as the old Dowbrigade, it sure brings back memories. There one particular hash house we remember, in a run-down section of Jaffa, an ancient Arab port city a few klicks south of Tel Aviv. From the outside it looked like one more squat, one-story cement storefront, no windows and no signs, crowded in among tire patchers and spice sellers and unidentified doorways guarded by darkly dangerous dudes.

When you knocked on the heavy wooden door with its stained but oiled steel bolts and hinges, a steel slat slid back at about eye level, and you’d get the once over. If you passed muster, you passed inside, and for a minute you were blinded by the change in ambient light level.

After your eyes adjusted to the dim, smoky atmosphere, you noticed that every available surface, walls, floor and ceiling, was covered with fabulously intricate and tightly woven rugs in deep wool colors, earthen browns and dark molten reds, geometric designs which would become become orders of magnitude more fantastical by the end of the visit.

Spaced out around the room, in the corners and along the walls, were rough circles of pillows, made from an assortment of richly woven silks and wools. Typically, 2 or 3 of the circles would be occupied on a lazy weekday afternoon, each with 5 or 6 assorted Arab gentlemen, some seemingly in their teens, young and voluble although respectful, some seemingly the ancient grandfathers of the same teenagers, but all dressed in similar long white flowing robes.

In the center of each circle was an elaborate four-foot high hookah, cast bronze, with multiple hoses snaking their way to the assorted smokers. The hoses were wrapped in rich, dark velvet sewn with leather straps, and tipped with solid silver mouthpieces. Some of the groups were smoking tobacco, some were smoking hashish, and some were mixing or alternating.

Smokables and steaming sweet tea were brought to the customers by a pair of 10 or 11 year-old boys. An order for hashish was served up in the form of "fingers" of reddish Lebanese resin. A "finger" was a tootsie-roll sized and shaped chunk of congealed cannabis concentrate weighing it at about 7 grams and costing, in those days in Arab Israel about 5 or 6 dollars. According to our sources. An order for tea was served up in chipped white porcelain mugs.

These dens of indigenous iniquity were open from around lunchtime until the wee hours of the morning, seven days a week. As far as we can remember, they didn’t close for Passover.

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4 Responses to High Holy Days

  1. loku says:

    udfhpygaihyeryihdri uhk piherpture puibdge upbdfpgt ploit8h kijdfhbpiud ufrtus piusfbgpA uibgaz liuUUU louigadburde uihps piubdg puibsg

  2. shishaboy says:

    I just got that exact REd hookah a few weeks ago from http://www.blowos.com its freaking crazy

    pro pot government in isreal? lol nice.

  3. Probably the first time I’ve seen a hemp party asking people to remove hemp from their homes…

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