This entry should be either about the Jewish folktale tradition or on the Native-American stories and how these are distinctly different from those of European origins. What is unique about them?) Blog is due by Sunday, April 14.
These Jewish tales are different from European tales in a few ways. For one the Rabbi for the most part is always at the center of the tale. The Rabbi tends to be the central guiding figure that teaches the others a lesson and is generally looked favorable upon. In “The Rabbi Who Was Turned into a Werewolf,” even though at the end of the tale the Rabbi turned his wife into a donkey, he was still seen as a good man. In fact the Rabbi was seem as a reasonable man, making even the relatives of his wife see the justness in his action, thereby placing no blame on him. This is the opposite of what happens in some European tales with transformation elements where the person who caused it is punished and the transformed is returned to their original state. For example in The Swan Maiden” the husband steals the wife’s swan feathers and that is how he is initially transformed to a human. By the end of the tale the wife has regained her feathers and returned to her original state as a swan and the husband is punished with loosing his wife. In the Jewish tale there is no punishment for the Rabbi’s misuse of power over his wife.
This leads to my next point, the lack of happy ending or soothing in the Jewish folk tales. In the “Swan Maiden” although the husband is punished for his actions towards his wife there was ultimately a happy ending. Where as in the Jewish Folk tales there is less of a focus on a happy ending and more of a focus on the lesson. In “Chelm Justice” there is no happy ending, in fact there is just the opposite, the ending is utterly unsatisfactory. The roofer is called to pay the price of cobbler’s crime. There is no soothing message within this tale to soothe the worries of the child. Instead there is the cold harsh reality of life’s unfairness. A roofer had to pay for the crime, instilling in the reader the idea of life’s unjustness. There is also the hidden lesson of making yourself unique. In a world where thing do not have to be fair this tale teaches to make oneself indispensable to those around them.
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