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Issue 43
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The Imaginary in the Moroccan Jewish folktale: The Story of Yusuf (May peace be upon him)
Issue 43

By Abdul Karim Al Sawwaf

 

The folktale highlights aspects that play an important role in making events, values, and noble goals interesting to readers. It is one of the oldest genres of literary work preserved in written documents or in people’s memories. The folktale plays important roles by transmitting information about events, and by compensating for a lack of similar events in real life. It offers a critique of society and education, and sheds light on the different forms of social injustice and oppression that have plagued peoples throughout the ages.

 

The Moroccan Jewish folktale has these aspects; it gives its author the freedom to express his views, goals and hopes. Firstly, it covers the various stages of Jewish history by discussing the lives of people such as Yusuf (may peace be upon him), who left a significant impression on the Jewish psyche. Secondly, it describes and critiques the current reality of Moroccan Jews. Thirdly, the folktale expresses goals, hopes and dreams, and describes another world, one that is invented by creative people inspired by noble values.

 

The Moroccan Jew’s hopes and dreams exist in a realm where safety, freedom and good values prevail, a world without tyranny or exploitation. This is a legitimate dream for every human, but such a dream may exist only in the imagination as a result of the clash with reality and stressful events; hopes and dreams collapse in the face of destiny.

 

The Moroccan Jewish narrator lives in a state of psychological imbalance, as he had lost one of his organs at some point. He lives in the conflict that the soul wages upon the self in order to force it to overcome challenges.

 

The imaginary Jewish elements in the folktale about Yusuf refer to the religious dream of a Jewish nation that has taken shape through history in the Jewish subconscious. Over time, it exercised its authority over individuals, not just as an imaginary tale, but also in reality. This became the primary theme of Jewish folktales. The study of the imaginary elements gave us the opportunity to gain insights into the Moroccan Jewish narrator’s awareness, feelings, pains, and dreams.