Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Happy Rabbis

Jewish Folk tales are like the clever uncle that comes around once in awhile. When they're here, they're the center of attention and everyone likes them, but when they're not, their meaningful messages are still there. Growing up half Lutheran-Christian and half Jewish enabled me to hear the fairy tales from European origins as well as the traditional tales that surrounded the Jewish religion. A very similar aspect that I noticed is that they all have the same ideals as to a single person who controls and created every living thing. It may not be as evident in the European tales, but in many Jewish folk tales, there is mention of a higher power. Jewish tales are based from the morals that are presented (and interpreted) from the Torah, the Jewish Holy Book. This book contained mostly the word of God, different stories passed down over the years, and laws that were to be followed. These created the morals that Jewish folk were expected to follow in order to keep in the faith of Judaism. Just as in the European fairy tales, there were hidden morals that children were encouraged to follow and perhaps even identify with. It's also very close to the idea of Zietgiest, as in how the Jewish folk are always re-interpreting the Torah in different ways as society changes. It is changing the stories and creating new ones based on the new additions that they have produced. European and Jewish tales are also very similar in the components of the tales. They have the same archetypes and magical elements that would contribute to the story being called a folk tale in the first place. There is even a book titled "Great Tales of Jewish Fantasy"!
Although they are very similar, they do have different terms for things. In all of the European folk tales that I've read, I've never come across the mentioning of a Rabbi. In every Jewish tale however, there is a Rabbi in every story. This is because the Rabbi is seen as the person who interprets the Torah, and therefore brings knowledge of the morals to the rest of the followers. European tales are mostly thought of before the Jewish tales, but the Jewish versions came before the Europeans even started producing their tales, possibly leading the Europeans to combine ideas for all their tales together. This could have produced the morals and superstitions that we have today.

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