When I was young, I automatically categorized stories in the Torah as historical fiction. Perhaps I understood precociously the concept of allegory and parable, or something. Or maybe I didn’t believe in miracles.But most likely, it was the way my teachers never bothered to translate the stories into a historical context. So when I found out — possibly in third or fourth grade — that “Mitzrayim” was actually Egypt and “Yam Suf” was the Red Sea and the “Nilus” was the Nile, it was an epiphany. The stories in the Torah happened in real places?! Now I had to blend the Egypt of DK books with the story of Yetziyas Mitzrayim. It was difficult but interesting. The main difficulty was finding support for midrashim. Like, was there really a sheep-god of Egypt?
It seems one of Esther’s teachers had the same sort of questions, and came up with a definitive answer…
In sixth grade we had a writing assignment based on shoes: we got a paper filled with various kinds of shoes and we had to choose one and write a story about it. I chose an Egyptian sandal.
My story was about an Egyptian Prince who finds out his father just died and has to deal with emotions of grief but also euphoria because now he’s king. At one point I referenced something we learned in Chumash class: that the doorways in the royal palace hall were low, to force visitors to bow to the gods. (But there was a nes and they were tall enough for Aharon and Moshe to get through without bowing even though they were so tall.)
The teacher whited out the entire line. I was quite confused as to why I couldn’t use that piece of information in an English story.
Story by Esther