Like all of the stories we’ve read so far, Jewish folktales have some features in common with the rest of the fairy/folktale genre. However, due the fact that they are written by people of a specific religion, rather than a certain country, they also have some distinct features.
Fairytales typically intend to teach some sort of lesson to the readers, and therefore have a little moral somewhere in the story. For instance, Little Red Riding Hood stories seek to warn young girls about the dangers of meeting and trusting strange men. “The Magic Mirror of Rabbi Adam” teaches the reader about repentance and forgiveness. Because the merchant’s wife was not a truly evil person, and repented of her actions, she is forgiven by God; however, the sorcerer is actually evil and this brings about his destruction.
There is also a story which does not seem to have any moral fiber. In “Chelm Justice,” the town cobbler kills his customer, and his life is spared because he’s the only cobbler in town. Instead, a roofer is hanged because there are two of those, so the logical thing to do, if the reader completely ignores that neither of the roofers is evil, is give up one of those.
Also, because these stories come directly from religion, some of the religious symbolism is very direct, whereas the symbolism from monotheistic religions is buried a little more deeply in other fairytales. For instance, “A Dispute in Sign Language” portrays a challenge between a Jew and a priest in which the Jew must respond to things the priest signs. While the Jew has one idea of the conversation in his mind, the priest believes that he signed about religion.
Because of where the tales come from, they have some differences from the fairytales that are derived from countries rather than cultures.