Golem is the Hebrew word for an artificial human being, an android, automaton, usually in human form into which life was breathed by the use of divine names.
Gershom Scholem in Encyclopedia Judaica":
"The golem is a creature, particularly a human being, made in an artifical way by virture of a magic act, through the use of holy names.
The idea that is is possible to create living beings in this manner is widespread in the magic of many people. Especially well known are the idols and images to which ancients claimed to have given the power of speech.
Among the Greeks and the Arabs these activities are sometimes connected with astrological speculatiobs related to the possibility of "drawing the spirit of the stars" to lower beings.
The development of the idea of the golem in Judaism, however, is remote from astrology; it is connected, rather, with the magical exegesis of the 'Sefer Yezirah' [Book of Creation] and with the ideas of the creative power of speech and of letters." (Kabablah, p. 351, Ency. Judaica 1971, vol. 7, col. 753)(Golem, 16)
(image right) Instructions in Hebrew on how to create a golem from Rabbi Eleazar of Wormes (Worms).
Scholem says for the Ashkenazi Hasidim:
"The study of the book [of Yezirah] was considered successful when the mystic attained the vision of the golem, which was connected with a specific ritual of remarkably ecstaic character." ("Kabbalah," p. 40, Scholem)
When the ritual, performed with the correct kowledge of the symbols in the book, it could produce a living, breathing creature, according to many rabbis and philosophers throughout human history.
Was the golem human? According to the rabbis, this creature had the same life force of any animal or living being, but it did not posses the same level of intelligence as humans. Stories about the golem's life describe the creature being dumb, unable to speak, but capable of understanding basic instructions. There are many discussions among the rabbis over the centuries about the attributes of this manmade creature.
Along with the discussions are buried the basic techniques to infuse life into a lifeless body. Many of the the practices have been described in English translations usually based on the golem of Prague. But earlier discussions make more distinct connections being the rituals to make a golem come to live and the "Sefer Yetzirah."
The golem is neither human nor is it not human. It may possess a human soul reincarnated (gilgul) by force through a ritual infuse a soul into a body. It could be the sould of an animal or plant, recycled into a clay mold for awhile.
Moshe Idel published an excellent book, now out of print, about the golem. It is the most complete English discussion from Hebrew sources over the centuries. When the book ("Golem: Jewish Magical and Mystical Traditions On The Artificial Anthropoid") is available in print, the link to purchase it will be included here. It is one of the missing pieces of the puzzle.
The creation of a golem is often compared to the union of the male and female to create a human being. But instead of using sprem and eggs, the Kabbalaist substitutes the appropriate universal energies to create a similar effect.
When the golem comes to life, is it really a figment of the conjurer's imagination or is it a real, breathing entity? The debate continues. Keep checking back for more.
Copyright by Robert Zucker 2006
No part may be copied without permission from author
Kabbalah Shoppe- Books & Items
Books on the Golem
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Read selections from the new book by author Robert E. Zucker, "Kabbalah's Secret Circles," examines the practices, literature and history of Jewish mysticism, Kabbalah and the Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Formation).
Discover the many lost and forgotten secrets of the Kabbalah through the words of famous Rabbi’s and authors throughout history.
Follow a historical time line of Judaic mysticism and understand some of the basic principles of the Kabbalah and Cabalah.
Devise your own Kabbalah Wheel to spin the legendary 231 Gates of combinations and permutations, as described in the ancient book on Jewish mysticism– the Sepher Yetzirah.
For more information on this Kabbalah book, contact author Robert Zucker.
By Aryeh Kaplan
This is the most authoritative text on the study of the "Sefer Yetzirah" or Book of Formantion (Book of Creation) available. Kaplan's explanations are easy to understand and make sense. A must have manual for anyone interested in Kabbal
Author: Gershom Scholem
This book helped reinvigorate 20th-century Jewish studies with an awareness of the Kabbala, after the 19th century's more astringent scholarly emphasis on law and philosophy. Covers a discussion of the golem.
by Gustav Meyrink (Author), Hugo Steiner-Prag (Author), Madge Pemberton (Author)
Most famous supernatural novel in modern European literature, set in Ghetto of Old Prague around 1890. A compelling story of mystical experiences, strange transformations, profound terror. 13 black-and-white illustrations. Text: English, German (translation). Paperback: 224 pages. Publisher: Dover Publications (December 1, 1985)
By Gershon Winkler
Experience one of the most startling and controversial metaphysical Jewish events of all time: the creation of a golem, a man crafted out of clay by the exalted Rabbi Yehudah Loevy ben Bezalel (the Maharal) of Prague to protect sixteenth-century Jews from persecution. The author skillfully captures the essence of the golem and examines its aftermath objectively. Features a dramatized adaptation of the documented adventures of the golem and includes a comprehensive overview of Jewish mysticism, black magic, demonology, miracles and science, plus a summary of other golems in Jewish history. Read it for pleasure as well as perspective. Paperback: 361 pages. Publisher: Judaica Pr (June 1, 1980). Language: English
These pages are excerpts from a new book on Kabbalah, by Robert Zucker, with instructions to create a golem using a Kabbalah Wheel. Read more pages and download a free PDF sample of "Kabbalah's Secret Circles."
© 2007-2017 Robert Zucker. Entertainment Magazine. EMOL.org. All rights reserved.