Sunday, April 21, 2013

Jewish Folktales

Folktales are different from fairy tales in a few ways. The main difference, however, is that folktales strongly pertain to a certain culture and contain traditions, values, and pivotal figures from that culture. Jewish folktales, for example, always have a Rabbi in the story. This is because Jewish communities are traditionally centered around a Rabbi, whom they go to for nearly everything. Therefore, another crucial part of a Jewish folktale is that the Rabbi must have a community of students around him. Rabbis interpret the Torah, and encourage students to interpret the Torah by seeking out the answers to questions they may have for themselves, rather than having the Rabbi provide an answer. Jewish folktales also demonstrate some of the history of the Jewish people via tales of oppression, persecution, and slavery. They may also demonstrate values and traditions held in the 613 laws of Judaism, or may demonstrate the history of either forced or willing transience that Jewish people have had to endure.
            More importantly, however, these folktales provide Jewish people with hope. In many of the stories, the main character goes through extreme hardship but then is rewarded due to his unwavering faith in his Rabbi and in God. Again, these tales of individuals overcoming hardship are reflections of the hardships that the Jewish population has had to survive throughout history, but has overcome due to a strong faith in God. Finally, Jewish folktales provide Jewish people with hope through tales of persevering discrimination and persecution. Many of the tales depict a Jewish man that overcomes a seemingly impossibly tough situation by using his wit and instinct.

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