The Golem

While we were in LA, we went to LACMA. One of their current exhibits is “Masterworks of Expressionist Cinema: The Golem and Its Avatars” and one of the focuses of the exhibit was the film Der Golem: Wie er in die Welt kam (The Golem: How He Came into the World).

It was a fascinating exhibit (you can read more about it here). But the golem itself is a really interesting bit of Jewish folklore.

Traditionally formed out of clay, a golem is created in clay by a rabbi in imitation of how God created man. By inserting the word emet (אמת, “truth” in Hebrew) on the Golem, the rabbi breathes life into his creation after many other magical incantations and prayers. To “kill” the golem, the e in emet would be removed, which changes the word from “truth” to “death” (met מת, meaning “dead”).

Golems were creatures created to protect the Jews. The most famous story of a golem is the story of Rabbi Loew and the golem he created to protect the Jews in Prague in the 16th century against antisemitic attacks. The story goes that golems were not allowed to be active on the sabbaths (there are all kinds of reasons why, but one says that the golem would go on a murderous rampage instead of being protective) and so Rabbi Loew would deactivate the golem every Friday evening. One weekend, forgetting to deactivate the golem, Rabbi Loew had to trick the golem into dying. When he manage to deactivate the golem, it fell to pieces. The body was taken to the attic of the synagogue where legend has it, it will rise again when needed. While the attic has since been renovated and no evidence of the golem was found, some stories say that it was reburied in a graveyard in Prague and waits for a need to rise again to this day.

Want to create your own? This article says it can tell you how! Well, really it tells you that it’s a lot harder than you might expect.

Or, if you want a bit of a giggle, The Best of Craigslist always delivers: Looking for Rabbi Versed in DARK TALMUDIC ARTS to create GOLEM.