This Saturday, the day after Valentine’s day, synagogues all over the world will be studying the Torah portion Ki Tissa, Exodus 30:11-34:35. It’s likely that most people who are asked to comment on the portion will focus on the dramatic story of the Golden Calf that is told in the portion.
I’m going to follow a different path. My focus is on a detail in the beginning of the portion that describes the laws concerning the holy tabernacle. I want to talk about one ingredient in the recipe for the anointing oil used to sanctify both the tabernacle and the priests themselves. (Exodus 30:22-33).
The Torah: A Women’s Commentary explains that the oil used to anoint sacred objects as well as the priests was to be made of four precious spices — myrrh, cinnamon, cane and cassia — combined with olive oil.
The common English translation of the third ingredient, replicated in most English versions of the five books of the Old Testament, is “aromatic cane.” However, a different translation appears in The Living Torah where Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan writes that some sources identify “fragrant cane” — “keneh bosem” in Hebrew — with the English and Greek word “cannabis” referring to the hemp plant.
Kaplan’s reference is significant. The Ben Yehuda Hebrew-English Dictionary, written by Eliezer Ben Yehuda, the father of modern Hebrew, defines the Hebrew word “kanabos” as hemp, a botanical relative of marijuana.
While the portion establishes severe penalties for use of the holy oil on profane objects or laypeople, it does not prohibit use of any of the separate ingredients. Punitive laws passed in the past century have distorted, demonized and suppressed the long history of the practical use, palliative power, and creative and spiritual contribution of this versatile plant.
Read More: Via Huffington Post