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Mar 4, 2008

"Judaism on Drugs" or "Was Moses Tripping?"

I am not into Bible Criticism. It does not interest me and I am not plagued with doubts and questions that reinterpretations of the Torah would sway me one way or the other with answers.

That being said, some Professor at the Hebrew University just published a reinterpretation of the whole Mt. Sinai experience.

His conclusion is that Moses was high and tripping at the time. He drank some herb from the Sinai and had all these sensory hallucinations that made him experience "thunderings, and the lightnings, and the voice of the horn, and the mountain smoking."

He admits he has no proof, and never will, but he supports it with his own personal experiences in South America of his using herbs to get high and experience similar hallucinations.

Personally, I feel very disturbed and insulted that this guy feels he can write off Judaism simply by saying Moses was tripping.

The only partially redeeming point he says is,
"But not everyone who uses a plant like this brings the Torah," Shanon concedes. "For that, you have to be Moses."

So, in other words, according to Professor Shanon, Judaism is 99% based on getting high on drugs, and 1% based on Moses being great enough to use those drugs to produce a Torah.

Maybe this guy is still tripping from one of his herbal drinks that he has "drank hundreds of times since 1991"....


  1. Uhhhh....

    He's not writing off Judaism. He's actually taking it at face value. The Torah does not say that when Beni Yisrael "saw" the thunder it was in a miraculous way, it just describes that they did. The fact that this guy found a naturally (albeit drug-induced) way to explain how this came about doesn't derogate at all from the story (unless you're in the anti-Slifkin camp in spirit). There are many meforshim (I refer you to Slifkin) who would be in favor of such an approach, since it's the smallest possible deviation from a natural phenomenon.

    Bad day for Rafi. I usually don't disagree with you twice in one day.

  2. rafi,

    yeah, but wait until purim. i've certainly heard on more that one person defend getting tipsy (to say the least) on purim (and in general) because it elevates them spiritually and brings them closer to God.

    that having been said, academics make these types of baseless assertions generally for publicity. i'm glad its not my tax dollars paying for it in this case.

  3. That is the most hilarious piece of info i've heard in weeks. Its too funny!

    But wouldn't the Jewish ppl sniff out his supposed trippin' self and find him out? Especially since he was trying to get them for the golden calf?

  4. yoni - you disagree with me? you mean you think Moshe was "tripping" as the Professor says?

    LOZ - getting tipsy on purim needs no justification at all! It is a mitzvah! Do you have to justify shaking the lulav and esrog? :-)

    Miriam - good question!the only thing I can suggest as an answer is maybe they were all tripping? like a very big Woodstock in the desert!

  5. Rafi,

    I don't agree with the professor either, especially since he admits that his theory can never be proven. However, I disagree with your statements that the theories "write off Judaism" or that "according to Professor Shanon, Judaism is 99% based on getting high on drugs". He admits to the greatness of Moshe. I think he offers an intriguing, albeit not very likely, explanation of "seeing" sounds.

  6. wow, just consider what we could have had in high school if this is true! ma'aseh avos simun la'banim - gimme some o' dat!

  7. More idiocy from Israeli liberal arts departments. I'm reminded of the paper suggesting that the reason Israeli soldiers don't rape Arab women reflects their contempt for them. As an article I read on JPost said, the true "rape" in these cases is the fact that people are forced to hear such lunacy and drivel not fit to print on a square of toilet paper.

  8. It's either possible or not.

    Being upset cos someone suggested it (and crying intellectual "rape"!) just makes it look like you're avoiding the critique (and heck - I guess you are).

    If it's stupid, say why - "How dare he say so" aint a defense; it's avoiding the question, which just makes others wonder why.

    Please - you'll be burning cartoons next otherwise....be braver than that. Or we'll suspect you have no confidence in your "truth" to have it questioned - however silly/offensive you think the question or critique is.

  9. Unbelievable. No one cna get crazier than Israelis. Absolutely unbelievable. Ditto for Micha.

  10. yoni:
    "The Torah does not say that when Beni Yisrael "saw" the thunder it was in a miraculous way, it just describes that they did."

    As I mention in my own analysis of this article here, the Torah does not say that they *saw* the thunder. That is a hyper-literal, that is, a midrashic, explanation of the text. A peshat-level explanation is that "roim" has a broader semantic meaning that just seeing something visually, but means to perceive/experience. And this is how, for example, the JPS translation translates it -- "perceive." To insist it means that they saw something with their eyes, and that that applies to the sounds, is not peshat in the pasuk, but rather derash.


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