In the last election campaign, the Shas party set itself up as one of the most prominent opponents of the easing of the cannabis laws. Party chairman Aryeh Deri, who was born in Morocco, also expressed his firm opposition to the idea.
"Hashem will have mercy, does anyone know what it means? That the country got up in the morning, that the youth gets up in the morning with something like that, what does it do, what does it do? "He explained only a few weeks ago.
Minister Deri apparently did not imagine that for hundreds of years the Jews of Morocco were the most efficient and reliable cannabis dealers of the king.
The hashish in the halachic books of the rabbis of Morocco
"On this subject of trade, the Jews of Morocco had an important status," explains Dr. Doron Danino, a researcher of Moroccan Jewry. "The barbarians (an ethnic group from north-west Africa) knew how to grow agricultural crops but could not market it into the cities."
Another reason is that "they also knew to speak 'amazigh' and 'slang' (barbaric languages) and the Arabs in Morocco spoke Moroccan. Those who knew how to mediate between them were the Jews, who took the agricultural produce from the villages and went with it to the markets in the cities. "
The Jewish trade and communication skills undoubtedly helped them greatly. The king of Morocco, who appreciated these skills, even decided to grant them exclusivity to the trade in hashish in the kingdom. "The Jews received a monopoly on the sale of the cannabis plant, or the cannabis produced from cannabis," explains Dr. Danino.
Today there is hardly any documentation of how Jews used to trade in hashish in Morocco, but a study of halachic books written by local community rabbis during the 18 and the 19 centuries reveals fascinating information about the involvement of Jews in the hashish scene in the country.
In 1760, the book "Avnei Shayesh" was published by Rabbi Shaul Abitbul, who was the rabbi of the city of Safro in central Morocco. Sections of the book indicate the price that the Jewish hashish merchants were forced to pay the king each year for the license to sell tobacco and hashish, a license called "alaska".
"Since the Tabac and Tabak alaskan and the fun and chewing of the cities of the West and the neighboring villages and markets were purchased by the late Rabbi Joseph Colbert Mordechai ... in the sum of approximately twenty thousand riyals per year"
The license to trade in hashish and tobacco, therefore, cost the Jews a thousand riyals, which is roughly equivalent to today's value of more than NIS 1,000. Quite a few.
Masoud Ben-Haim's kopishop
So the Jews controlled the trade in hashish in Morocco, but did the Jewish religion and halakhah in general permit the occupation of material?
Although we have found a number of sources relating to issues related to hashish in the Jewish community in Morocco, none of them speak of a halakhic ban on consumption of the material or even trade in it. The reference is purely technical. As far as the rabbis are concerned, hashish is simply another product in the market.
Another case is the rare and amusing documentation of conflict neighbors following the intention of one of the tenants to sell hashish instead of. The case is taken from the book Shofriya Da'akov, written by the sage Yaakov Bardugo, who headed the law in the city of Meknes, some 200 years ago.
"Mas'ud ben Haim bought the high rises in the courtyard of Musa ben Lahdiv ... and his deeds were recognized as his intention to live in the aforementioned house and to do his work in the ascension of the Nazarene, in order to store them with alkhef and tabak.
This text describes a situation in which a Jew runs a tobacco and hashish business from the key to his home, but discovers that the neighbors are not satisfied with the situation and are determined not to allow him to continue his work.
What bothers people so much that their neighbor will make a living by trading in hashish?
"And the owners of the houses under the rise stood up and sued him ... because he corrupts the ceiling of the houses with the walls under the ceiling by scratching the mice that are much in place of the treasures of the wheat and the like"
The potter's neighbors are not willing to store his cannabis in the attic, just as they oppose the storage of wheat or other crops - because mice come to the place and hit the ceiling and the walls.
Later in the text, the neighbors also complain about "the smell of the pot and harmful to the babies, and also the adults who are not used to it."
In the last section of the text it turns out that the biggest problem of the neighbors is not the mice or the sweet scent, but rather the customers who come to the yard, get dressed, get munch attacks, and behave rudely:
"And apart from the multiplicity of properties and those leaving for their hinterland, this is also a great blow when they enter the homes of the court, especially women and children ... All the owners of this business are strong nations. And the servants of power. And they are always crazy and confused and drunk ... and ask for bread or compote and a flame to burn and to breathe. And steal and snatch and do not say the answer. "
So the Jews in Morocco knew how to make money from the trade in hashish, but would they also consume the material themselves for personal use?
"Couscous Hundred Herbs"
Moroccan Jews were probably not heavy cannibals, but there were special occasions when cannabis was used, as described by Mr. Raphael Atias of the Center for North African Jewry.
"One of the most beautiful things in Moroccan culture is when you gather in the community and in your family for a party, a wedding, a bar mitzvah and the like," he says. "They make an evening before drinking and happy, and during the course of the meal they serve what is called 'dalshuvsh,' which is actually couscous into which they also sprinkle hashish. It put them in an atmosphere of liberation and joy. "
Dr. Danino, too, knows the traditional Moroccan food: "When dalshov is a couscous, it is prepared with the 'hundred herbs'. There are areas, mainly in northern Morocco, in the Rif region, where this couscous would add all kinds of weeds that were in the area, and the growth of cannabis was very common in this area. "
"The story is known, these cases are known, women's evenings, especially henna, before the wedding there would be a women's party, the women would go to the mikvah, and as part of the meal and the joy of the women around the event of the bride's baptism, they would also prepare this" , And make things there that you can be happy with ... "
It is hard to ignore the fact that there is something ironic about the remarks of Minister Deri, who is abandoning the cannabis market in Israel, a moment after we learned how hashish was an inseparable part of Morocco's glorious Jewish community. After all, was not Shas proposing to restore its former glory?