A board certified physician in Internal Medicine & Geriatrics, Rabbi Dr. Glassman taught clinical geriatrics at both Harvard and Tufts Medical Schools in Boston. After yeshiva study at Shalom Rav in Tzfat, he served in the IDF medical corp as a lieutenant deep in the Negev desert. He served as the chief house physician in a continuous care retirement community in Israel, called "Ad 120," followed by a directorship in clinical diabetes research at Hadassah Ein Kerem University Medical Center in Jerusalem. While in Jerusalem, he trained as a certified mohel by Rabbi Yehuda Giat of Mercaz HaRav. After specializing in Geriatric Medicine at Harvard Medical School, he received rabbinical ordination from Rabbi Dovid Shochet of Toronto, under the auspices of Yeshivas Hilchos Olam, administered by Rabbi Nachman Wilhelm.
The cannabis plant, native to the Middle East, attracted Rabbi Dr. Glassman's attention as a vital tool in the medical armementarium when he discovered writings explicitly about cannabis in the Code of the Jewish Law, the Shulchan Aruch. There, Rabbi Yosef Karo specifically mentioned the use of cannabis wicks for use in candles of the Sabbath שׁבּת. The Sabbath שׁבּת, where one shuts off the smartphone, stops driving and connects to the Infinite in a deeper way, is a potent spiritual healing day itself. The fact that cannabis was mentioned as a possibility in initiating that day of spiritual healing piqued his curiosity in researching how the cannabis plant, rooted in the physical world, works at modulating disease on a multitude of levels, including that of the spiritual world. In Torah, all physicality has a source in spirituality. So too is the case with medicine and wellness.
According to his medical aphorisms, over 800 years ago, the great physician and rabbi, Maimonides (the Rambam) prescribed cannabis for upper respiratory infections and various inflammatory conditions of the ear. This should not surprise us, as he practiced in Egypt as the personal physician of the Sultan, where cannabis grew freely; additionally, he was up to date on the medicine of the day, including Greek, and perhaps even Chinese medicine, where cannabis is one of the 50 essential herbs.
Most importantly, however, the Rambam commented on the Talmud in his classic work, the Mishneh Torah, that one could not grow a vineyard in Israel immediately after one grew a cannabis field, to avoid mixing the two. This implies that growing cannabis fields was a common practice in agrarian Israel, and even an important part of Biblical law. The renowned commentator and former
Rabbi Dr. Glassman has appeared in several popular venues on the connection between cannabis and Torah (the Hebrew Bible), including the OU, Hidabroot, HaAretz, The Huffington Post, LA Weekly, Baltimore Jewish Times, Jewish Advocate, The Jewish Journal, Jewcy, and Forward Magazine. He has formally presented on the topic at Harvard and Tufts Medical Schools, Boston University for physicians and laymen alike, and at several public venues including on Martha's Vineyard, where he practiced both as a hospitalist and rabbi for several years. He continues to offer spiritual guidance to countless residents of Martha's Vineyard.
"If one's field is sown with cannabis..." Order of Seeds, Plant Mixtures Mishnah: Kilayim 2:5
"And also, the wick would be beautified when it would be made of cotton, flax or cannabis." Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 75:3 [Concise Code of Jewish Law]
"...like cannabis and arum, which are important for their functions." Sefer HaChinuch 542:2 [Book of Education]
"Cannabis, Rabbi Tarfon says, is not one of the forbidden plant mixtures." Jerusalem Talmud 27B:2
"...the leaves of cannabis make one happy, and one eats them raw..." Radvaz, commenting on Rambam
"Cannabis oil provides benefit for cold, earaches, heals chronic illnesses and dissolves obstructions." Rambam [Maimonides] Medical Aphorisms, 22:58