Zalman Schachter: The Rebbe Gave Me A Blessing To Take LSD
In a new Ha'aretz profile, former Chabad emissary Zalman Schachter-Shalomi makes the following explosive claim:
"I first took acid with [Timothy] Leary," recalled Zalman in his characteristically deep, warm voice. At 81, his demeanor and energy are those of a much younger man. "That was several years before I knew [Richard] Alpert [a.k.a., Ram Das]. And the Lubavitcher Rebbe gave me a bracha (blessing) before I did it".
Schachter later modifies his claim:
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson made a point of plying Zalman with tall tumblers of vodka, and blessing him so that he would have "a successful retreat" and "a successful meditation." In retrospect, Zalman believes that the Rebbe was presciently blessing his upcoming LSD trip. Zalman later asked the Rebbe if he would be interested in taking LSD himself, but Rabbi Schneerson politely declined.
It would be more than two years before the Rebbe would eject Schachter from Chabad:
From his arrival in New York City in 1941 and up until 1968 when a talk he gave on kabbala and LSD goaded the Lubavitch establishment to banish him from their midst Zalman was officially associated with the movement. "I was a good apparatchik," he told me. Sent out by the Lubavitcher Rebbe in the early 1950s, along with the legendary Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, as the movement's first rabbinic shlichim (envoys) …