Page 83 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 49

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Apologues and Tales culled from Hebrew Manuscripts and
Rare Hebrew Books.”
T h e creative folklore process o f borrowing and transform ing
stories hea rd from o ther peoples into one’s own stories is a proc­
ess that Jews have applied from the beginning. T h e search for
the roots and original sources o f the variants o f tales offers
a treasu re-hun t for scholars. Ginzberg identified the Jews “as
great disseminators o f folklore, who on their long wanderings
from the East to the West, and back from the West to the East,
b rough t the products o f oriental fancies to the occidental na­
tions, and the creations o f occidental imagination to the oriental
peoples.” (From the introduction by Shalom Spiegel to the one-
volume edition o f Ginzberg’s
Legends of the Bible,
Phila., Jewish
Publication Society, 1972, p. xix.)
This process becomes evident when we survey the collections,
compare the variants and examine the sources. I shall begin
with the most importan t o f the anthologies, those o f Micha J o ­
seph Bin Gorion.
Bin Gorion, Micha Joseph .
Mimekor Yisrael: Classical Jewish
Ed. by Emanuel Bin Gurion. Trans, by I.M. Lask, with
an introduction by Dan Ben-Amos, 3 vols. Bloomington, IN:
Ind iana University Press, 1976. 1553 p.
This monumental collection o f 1,082 stories, with a title mean­
ing “from the source o f Israel,” is extraord inary in every way.
The stories have been a rranged in fou r books (with books III
and IV combined), each o f which in tu rn has fou r sections.
The fou r main divisions are: “National Tales,” including biblical
heroes, events and places, tales that take place du ring the Sec­
ond Tem p le , etc.; “Religious Ta les,” including talmudic,
kabbalistic and hasidic stories; “Folktales,” including stories o f
love and faithfulness, Elijah stories, and moralistic short stories;
and “Oriental Tales,” including fairytales and tales o f wisdom,
fables and parables, and popu lar Jewish reworkings o f Indian,
Persian and Arabic stories. What is unique about these volumes
is that there are two o r more versions o f some stories, one fol­
lowing the other. Bin Gorion set certain standards for the stories
he chose: “literary element (a m atter o f taste and judgm en t),
inne r tru th (a m atter o f strict checking which was natura l to
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