I was sitting in the car this morning, explaining to my daughter about the word narcissistic and its connection to Greek mythology (didn't I know all this stuff already by the time I was her age?) and a thought hit me. Bam, it said.
The cultural myths from many cultures seem to share a particular theme -- explaining elements of the natural world by tying them to events or people in the myth. How did the elephant get its trunk, the giraffe its long neck, or the zebra its stripes? Read the cultural myth. How did Devil's Tower come to be? Read the story from the Native Americans. Why is that constellation shaped that way, or does that flower grow that way? Read about the mythological characters who inspired that natural thing.
So I aimed that lens at my own culture and I discovered something -- Jewish cultural myths do not seem purposed to explain elements of the natural world. They aim to explain the behavior of people. What is the Amaleki mindset? Why do liars act the way they do? Torah stories rarely give the origins of things, but of nations.
Now I could be wrong, and if you ask certain people, odds are I am wrong, but what's important is that I'm not wrong. Unless I am.