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Did the Rebbe ever discuss recreational drugs?
I was wondering if we have any literature of the Rebbe on recreational drug use and did the Rebbe ever address the ever-growing drug pandemic which unfortunately has infiltrated also the Jewish and Orthodox community?
Yes, the Rebbe did indeed discuss it. The following are the talks in which it was addressed.
In a public talk said in the year 1972 the Rebbe stated [seemingly unconnected to anything that he had discussed before or after, lending to suspect for a common phenomenon that took place by Farbrengens that the Rebbe would address an individual in the crowd with an unconnected statement which related only to him, and took the place of Yechidus] “this is the only way to affect peace in the world, not through fighting, and not through drugs which is something that causes damage to the person and to the whole world”
In a talk a few weeks later, the Rebbe stated “Chinuch today is in a state of crisis, as drugs are becoming widespread heaven save us, and crime amongst youth has become widespread, as well as matters relevant to modesty, one should not speak of matters that are not of praise the Jewish people.”
To one individual in the year 1979 who consulted with the Rebbe regarding his drug addiction, the Rebbe advised him to accept upon himself to be observant of Torah and mitzvot and to change his ways and this will help him to recover from his addiction.
In an English letter, published in the series of Rabbi Nisan Mindell, addressed to a Cambridge university student in 1964, and published on Chabad.org, the Rebbe states “I am in receipt of your letter which you write as to my opinion regarding the new drug called L.S.D., which is said to have the property of mental stimulation, etc. Biochemistry is not my field, and I cannot express an opinion on the drug you mention, especially as it is still new. However what I can say is that the claim that the said drug can stimulate mystical insight, etc., is not the proper way to attain mystical inspiration, even if it had such a property. The Jewish way is to go from strength to strength, not by means of drugs and other artificial stimulants, which have a place only if they are necessary for the physical health, in accordance with the Mitzva to take care of one’s health. I hope that everyone will agree that before any drugs are taken one should first utilize all one’s natural capacities, and when this is done truly and fully, I do not think there will be a need to look for artificial stimulants.”
In a private audience with Rabbi Adin Even-Israel (Steinsaltz), published on Chabad.org, he states: He was speaking about the effect on a person taking drugs. He was, incidentally, very careful about not saying anything negative about anybody. He said that the opinion of the Torah in general is that the person should be the master over his or her self, and enslavement of any sort is wrong. Can a person still be the master over himself when involved with drugs and other addictive substances? The problem with using any kinds of drugs or almost anything that has a little bit of psychoactive material is the same. Indeed, almost everything is psychoactive, including bread. If one fasts and then takes a piece of bread, it is possible to see how many changes are made in one’s psyche. The specific problem, however, with drugs is that people come relatively fast to a point of no return. In truth there is never a point of no return; but one quickly reaches a point from where it is very hard, almost impossible, to return…
Mr. Eliezer Shmueli relates from a private audience he had with the Rebbe, printed by Jem’s My Encounter series, as follows: By my third meeting with the Rebbe, which took place in the late ‘70s, I had been the director general of the ministry for some time………In those days, drugs were becoming a problem for us, and this was what he wanted to talk about. For the most part, it was hashish, and also some pills. They were being imported from across the borders of Lebanon and Egypt, and later on they began to come in from South America, too. Once in the country, they were being pushed into the schools. The Rebbe banged on his table and said, “I’m worried that there are drugs in your school system and I want you to discuss what we can do together to uproot it.” He was particularly concerned about the army. “The Arabs are trying to push drugs into the IDF,” he warned, and stressed that we had to make sure that Israeli youngsters were properly deterred from taking drugs before they went into the army. “If we don’t overcome this plague,” he declared, “I am concerned that we are putting Israel’s security in jeopardy.” I was in total agreement. I described to him what exactly was going on and what we were doing about it, but he felt that it wasn’t enough. I also described an interdepartmental committee that had been formed, jointly putting several ministries on the problem – so that the police could put pressure on the pushers, and the welfare organizations would identify families in need, while we in education explained the risks of taking drugs to the younger generation – which he approved of.BHe asked me to continue to do my best in this struggle when I went home, and then to come back to report to him.
Sources: Toras Menachem Vol. 70 p. 183 and 267; Sichos Kodesh 5739 2:7 regarding advice for a drug addict; ‘The Letter & The Spirit’ – Letters by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, vol 2 p. 345; https://myencounterblog.com/?p=4138#more-4138; https://www.chabad.org/blogs/blog_cdo/aid/1171699/jewish/The-Problem-With-Drugs.htm ; https://www.chabad.org/therebbe/letters/default_cdo/aid/3190865/jewish/Should-I-Take-LSD-to-Attain-Spiritual-Heights.htm