Jews and Morocco? The End of A Beautiful Friendship?


A week ago last Sunday, some spectators left the National Football Conference Championship game early, presuming that, with only five minutes left, the Seattle Seahawks could not change the trajectory of the 19-7 score that favored the Green Bay Packers. No doubt Seahawks’ faithless fans kicked themselves all the way up the space needle and back when they learned what happened after they split. Their team somehow scored two touchdowns in two minutes to take the lead, after which the Packers tied with a field goal, pushing the game into overtime. One more stunning touchdown won the Seahawks the right to defend their 2014 Super Bowl title on February 1 against the winners of the AFC Championship game, the New England Patriots.

Seattle Seahawks’ third-year quarterback Russell Wilson had expected “an all-out battle,” but he also believed “that somehow, we would get it done. I believed we could overcome the turnovers and the mistakes and the adversity.”

Coach Pete Carroll affirmed, “Even when things were rough, [Wilson] was in it the whole way. He never doubted that he could get it done. He never hesitated, never flinched. … he kept saying that we were gonna find a way.”

“A lot of teams would have given up. We kept fighting,” said Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin. “We kept fighting and believing. The motto of our program is finishing, and that’s what we did.”

Some Questions:

1. Have you ever left a game or a match before it was over, only to discover later that it didn’t end the way you thought it would? How did you feel about your decision to leave early?

2. What might cause a person to lose faith in God? Have you ever been tempted to give up your passion or values? How did you handle that challenge?

3. Is it easier to believe the naysayers, or the die-hard fans who never give up on you? How do you decide whom to believe when you’re in a situation that looks hopeless?

This week’s Torah Portion, describing Pharaoh’s pursuit of the fleeing children of Israel, tells us that there were those among our people who despaired: “Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? … For it were better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we are to die in the wilderness.”

There are always persons in every crisis who yield to counsels of despair.
Erich Fromm, distinguished psychoanalyst, in his great book “Flight from Freedom,” tells us that some people fear the responsibilities of freedom and prefer the stultifying slavery, which is to them escape from responsibility. It was this psychological reaction that enabled slave peoples in the past to accept the tyranny that enslaved them. After all, freedom does impose responsibilities; freedom does require courage; freedom means maturity.

Moses’ answer, however, stands as the classic response: “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” And salvation came as the children of Israel walked through the parted waters of the Red Sea.
It is faith in freedom and the courage to implement that faith by action that brings deliverance.

My recent trip to Morocco makes me question my faith in the future of Jews there. Although the Jewish community has been there for more than 2,000 years, the signs seem clear.  There are very few Jews left.  Those who can have left.  Most of the others are looking to leave.  They do so not so much out of fear as resignation that the country and Jews have no future together.

But the lesson of the Seahawks and this week’s Torah portion humbles me.  Who knows?  Perhaps the worried Jews in France will return to Morocco?  Perhaps the are other factors not understood by me.  In the meantime, I encourage us to visit and show support for those who remain behind.

2000 years is a long time to be part of a country.  One would hope that somehow the relationship will survive.

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