Columns - 2005

    High Holy Daze

    After ten years living in the state that brought you medicinal marijuana, though never living in a state induced by it, I reveal to you a secret new push in the Cannabis movement: liturgical marijuana.

    Yes, you heard it here first. And probably last. But don't just think that this column is by some dope who's gone to pot.

    I'm not bongkers. So don't simply reefer to me as a weed in the journalistic landscape. Just hash through the issues. It should be no surprise that some people believe the liturgical experience at High Holy Days services can be enhanced by a judicious joint. After all, it's the Day of Judgement.

    Some would even say it's a necessary medicinal tool to help people survive those services, but that's for the courts to decide.

    This no doubt raises a big question for you: is the use of marijuana on Yom Kippur hallachically prohibited? But before that, your first question is probably, "what does 'hallachically' mean?"

    Hallachah is Jewish law. It's named after the hall that would echo with the communal "acha!" of the great rabbis whenever they made a new law.

    So, is marijuana hallachically prohibited, now that you know what it means? After all, it's not ingested so you're not breaking the fast. It can certainly add to a person's reflection on the year and their need to go around hugging people and moaning "dude, I'm SO sorry for what I did to you last year..."

    Even to people they've never met, which makes up for the people they actually know who aren't as forthcoming.

    Of course, there is the fact that indulging in liturgical marijuana would violate every synagogue's "No Smoking" sign. Is this a hallachic violation? Granted, it likely leads to a review by the Ritual Committee, which is worse than any recorded hallachic punishment.

    But since the Talmud says little about liturgical marijuana (I can't say "nothing," because I haven't read the whole Talmud myself), we'll forego the debate. We'll save it for the rabbis, who after a few hours debating this one might need their own, for medicinal purposes.

    One can only wonder if they will convene a law committee review in time.

    Just in case they fail to schedule one, you can join me as I light up your world and explore some of the most likely experiences, based on marijuana's well-known (not by me, mother) side effects of heightened relaxation, paranoia, problems with memory and learning, distorted senses, increased pulse, decreased motor control, dry mouth, dry wit, and actual tolerance of Barry Manilow:

    "Wow, what a fascinating sermon... I get it!"

    "Hey, I should donate to that building fund he's talking about."

    "Is some of this in a foreign language?"

    "Wow, what a fascinating sermon... I don't get it..."

    (The previous quote is also common to people NOT indulging in liturgical marijuana.)

    "Did I really do that this year? Was it last year? Oh, I think it was this morning..."

    "Hey, beat your OWN chest!"

    "Wow... that fast went by so fast! Hey! Is that how they named it?"

    "I need a drink already! I'm so thirsty!!!"

    "Excuse me, but that's the fourth time you missed the pew."

    "Excuse me, but that's the fourth time you missed your chest and beat your thigh."

    "Can he play 'Freebird' on that thing?"

    "Wow! Did you hear him play 'Freebird' on that thing?"

    "I think He closed the Book of Life on my hand."

    "What happened to my eyes?!? It looks like everyone is wearing white!"

    "Whoa... Five minutes ago I thought everyone was wearing white..."

    "Man, my pulse hasn't been this fast since I committed a couple of those sins we were just talking about."

    "Wait! I did that just last month! Are they talking about me? Do they know I did that? Is that why they listed it? Did the rabbis who wrote the Machzor foresee that I would do that? How did they know..."

    "The rabbis who wrote the Machzor were foreseeing me... Excellent..."

    "Are you sure I wasn't bowing? I thought I was... Oh. Are you sure I'm still bowing? It doesn't feel like I am..."

    "Hey, it's time for another one. The rabbi just said it's time for the Unetana Toker."

    Doug Brook is a senior technical writer in Silicon Valley who can make you a great deal on the weed growing in his back yard. And the mushrooms. For more information, past columns, and other writings, visit his website at

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.