As can be expected, last week’s article, Lysergic
Acid Diethylamide, elicited quite a number of responses,
most positive, some critical, many of them posted online
in the comments
section on the article. The harshest accusation came from
one reader who felt that my article may have been “irresponsible,”
influencing someone to want to try a “life altering
In order to make my intentions perfectly clear and not
leave any room for ambiguity, here’s the letter and
Unfortunately your article on L.S.D. influenced a dear
friend of ours to want to “have a life altering experience,”
a creative and inspiring trip. This is a grown educated
woman in her forties who missed out on the sixties. I wonder
what the effect and curiosity and Pandora’s Box you
may have opened, not intentionally, with some of your younger readers.
I feel that your article seemed a bit irresponsible and
made the "unknown" possibility attractive.
Best Wishes, M.A.
Thank for writing and bringing to my attention my article's
influence on your dear friend. I am truly sorry and surprised
to hear that the article caused someone to want to
try LSD. I'm thinking how anyone could have come away with
such a thought after reading in no unclear terms that
drugs are dangerous and harmful. Even if their use induced
a deeper awareness, they are like administering drugs to
a comatose individual. How could that inspire someone to
In general, the ideas I wrote about are basically
the concept of teshuva – the power of return. One
of the most powerful gifts bestowed upon humans is our ability
to change our pasts and transform even "intentional
sins" (zedonos) to merits. This is not a license
to sin, as the Talmud specifically states that "one
who says I will sin and then do teshuva, their teshuva is
not accepted" (even in that case, the Tanya says that
if the person insists and persists, his teshuva will be
accepted). But AFTER THE FACT – as emphasized
in the article several times – we have the capacity
to elevate our past experiences (even if they were outright
Torah prohibited sins of the worst nature). We don't elevate
the sin itself; that has to be destroyed. We elevate the spark
within, and the results of the experience (see Tanya
Anyone deriving from my article that LSD is appealing is
equivalent to someone drawn to medication because it
revives a comatose person, or that one can transgress Torah,
because there are balei teshuva who elevated and
transformed their transgressions.
I take seriously the responsibility of writing about this
sensitive issue, especially with younger readers who may
not be able to distinguish between the abovementioned nuances.
But on the other hand, I know from personal experience as
well as from the many positive responses I have received
to my article, that this topic is an extremely important
one to address. And just to condemn outright all those that
had psychedelic experiences and all those that rebelled,
even if their behavior was self-destructive, does not seem
very productive and would not resonate much, and above all
– it would be simply incorrect: The Torah perspective
categorically rejects the fatalistic view that we are victims
of our mistakes, condemned to be haunted by our pasts, powerless
to do anything about it. We have the great responsibility
and opportunity to transform our pasts; to discard the peel
as we eat the fruit through teshuva.
To avoid writing about this topic because someone may mistakenly
be enticed to try drugs is the equivalent of not writing
about the power to transform past sins through teshuva in
order not to appear like we are glamorizing the process
and giving someone the impression that sins are acceptable.
I would even venture to say, that anyone trying drugs is
probably prone to it before reading my article. It's hard
for me to imagine that my writing alone should cause someone
to do that. But I stand corrected if I am proven wrong.
Based on your note, my plan is to write a follow up e-mail
to clarify these points, so that no one comes away with
the wrong conclusions.
Thank you again for writing, and I welcome any further
thoughts you may have.
Feel free to share my words with the person influenced
by my initial article, and with anyone else you see fit.
Blessings and best wishes,