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What does Jewish law or tradition have to say about magic mushrooms? Or in general, about any hallucinogen.

Is it forbidden to consume psilocybin mushrooms or other hallucinogens? Is it advocated? Why?

It seems like the large psychedelic community of Israel approves. Do they have any authority or tradition to support them?

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See this: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/10609/1569 –  b a Feb 22 '13 at 0:56
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In the written torah text or in the tradition developed through the written torah, the oral law and the authoritative statements of the sages and rabbis? chabad.org/blogs/blog_cdo/aid/1171699/jewish/… related? judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/16341/… –  Danno Feb 22 '13 at 0:57
    
Hi Benny welcome to Mi Yodeya and thank you for bringing your question here. Hope to see you around. –  not-allowed to change my name Feb 22 '13 at 2:32
    
Benny, I second the welcome. If you have any reason to think other drugs might be different from marijuana, please edit them into the question to distinguish it from the preexisting one. –  msh210 Feb 22 '13 at 4:05
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@msh210, having said that, I believe it's a duplicate of this question: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/16341/5 –  Seth J Feb 22 '13 at 18:21
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2 Answers

Even if there is a "psychedelic community" in Israel that approves of "magic mushrooms," that is not an indication that Judaism approves of it. In nearly every country there is a small group of people obsessed with psychedelic drugs, and they pretty much approve of them all. Since they are ideologues, they have no credibility. Don't listen to them.

These mushrooms were not known to people outside of Mexico/Central America until very recent times. So the Torah says nothing about it. But major gedolim such as R' Moshe Feinstein have said not to use marijuana (which is a mild hallucinogen so it's also a psychedelic). And there is no respected Orthodox rabbi I'm aware of who has approved of any illegal drug use.

Common sense, scientific evidence and common experience also should keep us from using this drug. As with any psychedelic drug, there are grave risks of severe, long-lasting psychological problems, such as permanent perceptual changes ("hallucinogen persisting perception disorder" or HPPD), panic attacks, and anxiety problems. There is also the danger that one will have experiences which one thinks are genuine spiritual experiences but in fact are misleading or dangerous. For this reason, some kabbalists (such as Rabbi Ariel bar Tzadok) do not take anyone as a student who has used psychedelic drugs.

The Torah requires us to guard our health. That includes our mental health, of course. So we should avoid all illegal drugs, and psychedelic drugs in particular, like the plague.

If you want an interesting or transcendental experience, Judaism provides traditional means for doing so: prayer, meditation, fasting, wine, dancing, music, etc. These are safe in moderation. There's no need to experiment with dangerous drugs.

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Aside from the fact that there is no pharmocological evidence to suggest that psilocybin (which are non-toxic) are "dangerous drugs", it's simply untrue to claim that psychotropic plants were never native to the Ancient Near East. We have evidence for a range of different hallucinogenic plants, used in medicine and ritual, from Mespotomia to Egypt - including certain fungi. While they appear to be absent from Tanakh, they may be alluded to in the "apocryphal" literature. Consider 4 Ezra 9:26ff, where Ezra eats flowers and then has a vision of the heavenly Jerusalem. –  Shimon bM Feb 22 '13 at 6:09
    
While it may not be, pharmacologically speaking, a poison, there is plenty of research confirming psilocybin's dangerousness. Numerous studies show serious psychiatric consequences from this substance, ranging from HPPD to full-blown psychosis. A recent British study found that about a quarter of psilocybin users got panic attacks from using it. van Amsterdam J, Opperhuizen A, van den Brink W. (2011). "Harm potential of magic mushroom use: a review". Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 59 (3): 423–9. –  Kordovero Feb 22 '13 at 17:23
    
There may be evidence that various cultures have used hallucinogenic plants, but the evidence for use among Jews is either non-existent or extremely speculative (as with the 4 Ezra reference.) –  Kordovero Feb 22 '13 at 17:24
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Benny, that is not correct. Jewish law requires us to follow the law of the land. You are also incorrect about safety. There is no such thing as consuming it correctly. People take "normal" doses under normal conditions all the time (even with the best of idealistic or "spiritual" intentions) and end up with serious negative side effects such as panic attacks or HPPD. This happens with every psychedelic (whether "natural" or synthetic). This is documented by numerous studies, and is common knowledge among sufferers of drug-induced disorders (see their message boards, etc.) –  Kordovero Feb 22 '13 at 18:45
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@Benny if you're questioning your faith over being able to do psychedelic drugs, I strongly recommend you take it up with your rabbi. If you prefer not to take it directly to your own rabbi, might I humbly suggest Rabbi Lazer Brody of Ashdod (rabbi_lazer@yahoo.com), who, being very involved in outreach in Israel, is no stranger to the large Israeli psychedelic community and can surely offer you fair and balanced guidance. –  yoel Feb 24 '13 at 6:35
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See Aryeh Kaplan in Meditation and Kabbalah, where he mentions that R' Chaim Vital may have used psychedelic grasses. The gemara in Shabbos, I believe talks about "peiros ginosar" who's flavor is seemingly psychedelic. Although I asked a certain R' Sokol, and was told that the gemara in a different location says "once the beis hamikdash was destroyed, the taste of fruits was annulled." He said this means there is no longer fruit that raises consciousness, it only comes from herbs and grasses. The mishkan was made almost entirely of acacia or mimosa wood, both of the worlds most potent hallucinogens. The anointing oil contained "kaneh bosom" which R' Aryeh Kaplan identifies as cannabis. The Holy Zohar says that, "There is no grass or herb that grows in which G-d's wisdom is not greatly manifested and which cannot exert great influence in heaven" and "If men but knew the wisdom of all the Holy One, blessed be He, has planted in the earth, and the power of all that is to be found in the world, they would proclaim the power of their Lrd in His great wisdom" (Zoh. II, 80B).

Also see http://lucidconsciousness.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/biblical_entheogens.pdf and http://koshertorah.com/PDF/Drug%20Use.pdf

I have heard many things from many rabbis. The general consensus seems to be that we have a path to follow and it is the way we walk. There are no shortcuts, there is no running before you walk. But this is the messianic age. Who knows what will come to be. I remember hearing from one rabbi that the gemara says "When the temple was destroyed, prophecy was given to the insane, children, and dogs" If you take a chemical that makes you "insane" maybe you can get prophecy, who knows. It is supposed to return when Moshiach gets here.

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"peiros ginosar" seems to be a sugar high –  Shmuel Brin Jul 24 '13 at 23:59
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Asher Burrows, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for posting this answer! You could make it even more valuable by adding links or bibliographic information for all books mentioned, breaking it up into paragraphs, and separating speculation from ideas you have sources for (or even removing the former). I hope you'll look around the site and find other top-quality stuff, perhaps including our 13 other questions about inebriation. –  Isaac Moses Jul 25 '13 at 14:22
    
"identifies" is a strong word bible.ort.org/books/… –  Double AA Mar 4 at 6:35
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