Chapter Six (35a) begins with a new question: “In what manner does one recite the blessing on fruits?” From this question, it is a brief transition to R’Akiva teaching that “It is forbidden for a person to taste anything before he recites a blessing.” The rabbis search for a Scriptural foundation for Akiva’s teaching, but their search is (pardon the pun) fruitless. They conclude, “This requirement is based on reason.” And, personally, I am relieved, because I don’t need a proof for a teaching that is simple common sense: I want to feel the blessing of every thing and every person that I encounter.
We are told that “whoever derives benefit from this world without first reciting a blessing has committed an act of me’illah” (unauthorized use of Temple property) and (even more grave) “is regarded as if he robs the Holy One, Blessed is He . . .” Passages like this often prompt Mike to ask why God would care. I tend to think of this sort of homily as externalizing our own need to be conscious of the benefits we derive as the day unfolds. On the other hand, I don’t know what to make of the suggestion on 36a that intent to use a substance as a remedy rather than for pleasure does not need a blessing. Which leads me to . . .
Fear and Loathing
We are all wired into a survival trip now. No more of the speed that fueled the Sixties. Uppers are going out of style. This was the fatal flaw in Tim Leary’s trip. He crashed around America selling “consciousness expansion” without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook realities that were lying in wait for all the people who took him too seriously. After West Point and the Priesthood, LSD must have seemed entirely logical to him.
. . . What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped to create . . . a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody—or at least some force-- is tending that Light at the end of the tunnel.
---Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, pp 178-179.