Our class took a break from reading traditional fairytales to briefly study Jewish Folktales. I throughly enjoyed the few tales were exposed to this week.
The Jewish Folktales contained many characteristics as the other stories we have read. First of all, many of the tales included magic- such as the magic ring of "The Rabbi who was Turned into a Werewolf" or a magic arrow and mirror in "The Magic Mirror of Rabbi Adam." However, in a slightly unique twist, these supernaturals forces were directly countered by Jewish religious doctrine. For example, in "The Magic Mirror of Rabbi Adam", the sorcerer who tried to challenge divine power ultimately met his ruin through his subversive endeavors. Such an ending promoted a strongly Jewish praise of true divinity and condemnation of false gods and misdirected dependencies.
The Jewish Folktales also exemplified many of the archetypes found in fairytales. In the Jewish culture, the "wise, old man" character is seen in the character of a Rabbi. The "trickster" archetype also emerged in many of the tales. The Rabbi who sneakily ate his guilty sentence in "The Rabbi and the Inquisitor" actually played the role of the trickster instead of the "wise, old man."
"The Rabbi that Turned into a Werewolf" stood out especially as paralleling fairytale characteristics. In addition to having a magic ring, like a fairytale, the story included the transformation of spouses into beasts, enchanted forests and kings sending men on quests. "Chelm Justice", "A Dispute in Sign Language" and "It Could Always Be Worse", however, stood out as quite different from traditional fairytales. These clever, short tales lacked any element of fantasy. Instead, they functioned as extended, yet highly enjoyable, witticisms.
The Jewish Folktales from this week's readings offered a refreshing contrast to the traditional fairytales we have primarily focused on.