Tales of magic and wonder can be found in every phase of Jewish literature, from the sacred to the secular. The fairy tale in particular--set in enchanted lands and populated with a variety of human and supernatural beings, both good and evil--holds a very special place in the Jewish tradition. For in the fairy tale, where good and evil engage in a timeless struggle, we have a clear reflection of the Jewish world view, where faith in God can defeat the evil impulse.
In Elijah's Violin, Howard Schwartz offers a sumptuous collection of thirty-six Jewish fairy tales from virtually every corner of the world. At once otherworldy and earthy, pious and playful, these celebrated tales from Morocco and India, Spain and Eastern Europe, Babylon and Egypt, illustrate not only their Jewish character but also their universality of themes. Invoking the biblical tale of David and Goliath, we read as King David defeats the giant by hovering above its spear in King David and the Giant. In the romantic tale of The Princess in the Tower, a variant of Rapunzel, we watch as the cautious King Solomon recognizes the vanity in trying to prevent Providence from taking place. And we see the religious nature of the quest for Elijah's violin in the title story. The successful completion of the king's quest enables the violin's imprisoned melodies, emblematic of the Jewish spirit, to be set free.
Throughout this richly illustrated collection, one can find the quests and riddles of the traditional fairy tale along with the divine intervention that characterizes the Jewish fairy tale. Skillfully translated, these stories will captivate children and adults alike in which romance and magic become enchantingly entwined with faith, duty, and wisdom.