As we look at many different stories, each story has its own different craft elements, some being more important than others. The craft elements are what make the story what it is. In Gimpel the Fool, by Isaac Bashevis Singer, we see how the setting and character are by far, the most important elements of the story. Without truly understanding these two elements, it would be nearly impossible to fully understand this masterpiece.
What makes this short story special is that there is no mention of when this could've taken place. The fact is, this could've taken place anywhere from the middle ages, until the Holocaust. The reason so is because the Jews lived in shtetals, or towns where the outside world is mostly cut off to them, or completely irrelevant to their daily lives. The only difference would be the size of their house, but otherwise, the way they carried out their lives, their dress, language, food and names would be the same. Within the first sentences, we see that the town they live in is Frampol, a typical highly populated Jewish town in Poland. In a Jewish town the most important and highly respected man was the Rabbi. Congregants from all over the town would go to the Rabbi for advice, as did Gimpel many of times. The Rabbi had a power to tax and the power to conduct a rabbinical court, amongst many other things. "Asking the rabbi for advice" was .
a popular line in all of Eastern Europe. On many important issues or problems that come up, the rabbis from different towns would write to each other to establish a uniform rule how to deal with it. As we see in Gimpel the Fool, "You can go home then. You owe thanks to the Yanover Rabbi. He found an obscure reference in the Maimonides that favored you." .
In The Jewish community that Gimpel lived in "the husbands the master" and the woman did not have most privileges like the men. Elka swore and cursed at Gimpel, which is a sign that there was not true love, and was famous around the town for being a whore.