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A Prague reproduction of the Golem.
In Jewish folklore, a golem (/ˈɡoʊləm/ goh-ləm; Hebrew: גולם) is an animated anthropomorphic being, magically created entirely from inanimate matter. The word was used to mean an amorphous, unformed material (usually out of stone and clay) in Psalms and medieval writing.
The most famous golem narrative involves Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the late-16th-century rabbi of Prague. There are many tales differing on how the golem was brought to life and afterwards controlled.
The word golem occurs once in the Bible in Psalm 139:16, which uses the word גלמי (galmi; my golem), meaning "my unshaped form", connoting the unfinished human being before God's eyes. The Mishnah uses the term for an uncultivated person: "Seven characteristics are in an uncultivated person, and seven in a learned one," (שבעה דברים בגולם) (Pirkei Avot 5:6 in the Hebrew text; English translations vary). In Modern Hebrew, golem is used to mean "dumb" or "helpless". Similarly, it is often used today as a metaphor for a brainless lunk or entity who serves man under controlled conditions but is hostile to him under others. "Golem" passed into Yiddish as goylem to mean someone who is clumsy or slow.
The oldest stories of golems date to early Judaism. In the Talmud (Tractate Sanhedrin 38b), Adam was initially created as a golem (גולם) when his dust was "kneaded into a shapeless husk". Like Adam, all golems are created from mud, by those close to divinity; but no anthropogenic golem is fully human. Early on, the main disability of the golem was its inability to speak. Sanhedrin 65b describes Rava creating a man (gavra). He sent the man to Rav Zeira. Rav Zeira spoke to him, but he did not answer. Rav Zeira said, "You were created by the sages; return to your dust".
During the Middle Ages, passages from the Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation) were studied as a means to create and animate a golem, although there is little in the writings of Jewish mysticism that supports this belief. It was believed that golems could be activated by an ecstatic experience induced by the ritualistic use of various letters of the Hebrew Alphabet forming a "shem" (any one of the Names of God), wherein the shem was written on a piece of paper and inserted in the mouth or in the forehead of the golem.
In some tales (for example, some versions of those of the golems of Chełm and Prague, as well as in Polish tales and version of Brothers Grimm), a golem is inscribed with Hebrew words, such as the word emet (אמת, "truth" in Hebrew) written on its forehead. The golem could then be deactivated by removing the aleph (א) in emet, thus changing the inscription from "truth" to "death" (met מת, meaning "dead"). Other versions add that after creating an entity out of clay, it would be brought to life by placing into his mouth a shem with a magic formula, and could later be immobilized by pulling out the shem, or by reversing the creative combinations, for, as Rabbi Jacob ben Shalom, who arrived at Barcelona from Germany in 1325, remarked, the law of destruction is the reversal of the law of creation.
Joseph Delmedigo informs us, in 1625, that "many legends of this sort are current, particularly in Germany".
"Human beings may come into existence without natural parents. That is to say, such beings grow without being developed and born by a female organism; by the art of an experienced spagyricus (alchemist). The generatio homonculi has until now been kept very secret, and so little was publicly known about it that the old philosophers have doubted its possibility. But I know that such things may be accomplished by spagyric art assisted by natural processes. If the sperma, enclosed in a hermetically sealed glass, is buried in horse manure for about forty days, and properly 'magnetised' it begins to live and to move. After such a time it bears the form and resemblance of a human being, but it will be transparent and without a corpus. If it is now artificially fed with the arcanum sanguinis hominis until it is about forty weeks old, and if allowed to remain during that time in the horse-manure in a continually equal temperature, it will grow into a human child, with all its members developed like any other child, such as could have been born by a woman; only it will be much smaller. We call such a being a homunculus, and it may be raised and educated like any other child, until it grows older and obtains reason and intellect, and is able to take care of itself. This is one of the greatest secrets, and it ought to remain a secret until the days approach when all secrets will be known."
Paracelsus has been reproached for his belief in the possibility of generating homunculi; but a deeper insight into the processes of Nature will show that such a thing is not necessarily impossible. Modern authorities believe it to be not impossible. Moleschott thinks that we may perhaps yet succeed in establishing conditions by which organic forms can be generated; Liebig is of the opinion that chemistry will yet succeed in making organic substances by artificial means. Goethe says in his "Faust": --
"And such a brain, that has the power to think,
Will in the future be produced by a thinker."
Where no germ is present such a generation would certainly be impossible; but chickens can be artificially hatched out, and perhaps homunculi may be developed. There seem to be some historic evidences that such things have been accomplished, as the following account will show: --
In a book called "The Sphinx," edited by Dr. Emil Besetzny, and published at Vienna in 1873 by L. Rosner (Tuchlauben, No. 22), we find some interesting accounts in regard to a number of "spirits" generated by a Joh. Ferd, Count of Kueffstein, in Tyrol, in the year 1775. The sources from which these accounts are taken consist in masonic manuscripts and prints, but more especially in a diary kept by a certain Jas Kammerer, who acted in the capacity of butler and famulus to the said Count. There were ten homunculi or, as he calls them, "prophesying spirits" preserved in strong bottles, such as are used to preserve fruit, and which were filled with water; and these "spirits" were the product of the labour of the Count J. F. of Kueffstein (Kufstein), and of an Italian Mystic and Rosicrucian, Abbe Geloni. They were made in the course of five weeks, and consisted of a king, a queen, a knight, a monk, a nun, an architect, a miner, a seraph, and finally of a blue and a red spirit. "The bottles were closed with ox-bladders, and with a great magic seal (Solomon's seal?). The spirits swam about in those bottles, and were about one span long, and the Count was very anxious that they should grow. They were therefore buried under two cart-loads of horse-manure, and the pile daily sprinkled with a certain liquor, prepared with great trouble by the two adepts, and made out of some ‘very disgusting materials.' The pile of manure began after such sprinklings to ferment and to steam as if heated by a subterranean fire, and at least once every three days, when everything was quiet, at the approach of the night, the two gentlemen would leave the convent and go to pray and to fumigate at that pile of manure. After the bottles were removed the 'spirits' had grown to be each one about one and a half span long, so that the bottles were almost too small to contain them, and the male homunculi had come into possession of heavy beards, and the nails of their fingers and toes had grown a great deal. By some means the Abbe Schiloni provided them with appropriate clothing, each one according to his rank and dignity. In the bottle of the red and in that of the blue spirit, however, there was nothing to be seen but 'clear water'; but whenever the Abbe knocked three times at the seal upon the mouth of the bottles, speaking at the same time some Hebrew words, the water in the bottles began to turn blue (respectively red), and the blue and the red spirits would show their faces, first very small, but growing in proportions until they attained the size of an ordinary human face. The face of the blue spirit was beautiful, like an angel, but that of the red one bore a horrible expression."
"These beings were fed by the Count about once every three or four days with some rose-coloured substance which he kept in a silver box, and of which he gave to each spirit a pill of about the size of a pea. Once every week the water had to be removed, and the bottles filled again with pure rain-water. This change had to be accomplished very rapidly, because during the few moments that the spirits were exposed to the air they closed their eyes, and seemed to become weak and unconscious, as if they were about to die. But the blue spirit was never fed, nor was the water changed; while the red one received once a week a thimbleful of fresh blood of some animal (chicken), and this blood disappeared in the water as soon as it was poured into it, without colouring or troubling it. The water containing the red spirit had to be changed once every two or three days. As soon as the bottle was opened it became dark and cloudy, and emitted an odour of rotten eggs."
"In the course of time these spirits grew to be about two spans long, and their bottles were now almost too small for them to stand erect; the Count therefore provided them with appropriate seats. These bottles were carried to the place where the Masonic Lodge of which the Count was the presiding Master met, and after each meeting they were carried back again. During the meetings the spirits gave prophecies about future events that usually proved to be correct. They knew the most secret things, but each of them was only acquainted with such things as belonged to his station: for instance, the king could talk politics, the monk about religion, the miner about minerals, &c.; but the blue and the red spirits seemed to know everything. (Some facts proving their clairvoyant powers are given in the original.)"
"By some accident the glass containing the monk fell one day upon the floor, and was broken. The poor monk died after a few painful respirations, in spite of all the efforts of the Count to save his life, and his body was buried in the garden. An attempt to generate another one, made by the Count without the assistance of the Abbe, who had left, resulted in failure, as it produced only a small thing like a leech, which had very little vitality, and soon died."
"One day the king escaped from his bottle, which had not been properly sealed, and was found by Kammerer sitting on the top of the bottle containing the queen, attempting to scratch with his nails the seal away, and to liberate her. In answer to the servant's call for help, the Count rushed in, and after a prolonged chase caught the king, who, from his long exposure to the air and the want of his appropriate element, had become faint, and was replaced into his bottle not, however, without succeeding to scratch the nose of the Count."
It seems that the Count of Kufstein in later years became anxious for the salvation of his soul, and considered it incompatible with the requirements of his conscience to keep those spirits longer in his possession, and that he got rid of them in some manner not mentioned by the scribe. We will not make an attempt at comment, but would advise those who are curious about this matter to read the book from which the above account is an extract. There can be hardly any doubt as to its veracity, because some historically well-known persons, such as Count Max Lamberg, Count Franz Josef v. Thun, and others, saw them, and they possessed undoubtedly visible and tangible bodies; and it seems that they were either elemental spirits, or, what appears to be more probable, homunculi.
-- The Life of Philippus Theophrastus Bombast of Hohenheim Known by the Name of Paracelsus and the Substance of his Teachings, by Franz Hartmann, M.D.
The earliest known written account of how to create a golem can be found in Sodei Razayya by Eleazar ben Judah of Worms (1165–1230).
The Golem of Chelm
The oldest description of the creation of a golem by a historical figure is included in a tradition connected to Rabbi Eliyahu of Chełm (1550–1583).
A Polish Kabbalist, writing in about 1630–1650, reported the creation of a golem by Rabbi Eliyahu thus: "And I have heard, in a certain and explicit way, from several respectable persons that one man [living] close to our time, whose name is R. Eliyahu, the master of the name, who made a creature out of matter [Heb. Golem] and form [Heb. tzurah] and it performed hard work for him, for a long period, and the name of emet was hanging upon his neck, until he finally removed it for a certain reason, the name from his neck and it turned to dust." A similar account was reported by a Christian author, Christoph Arnold, in 1674.
Rabbi Jacob Emden (d. 1776) elaborated on the story in a book published in 1748: "As an aside, I'll mention here what I heard from my father's holy mouth regarding the Golem created by his ancestor, the Gaon R. Eliyahu Ba'al Shem of blessed memory. When the Gaon saw that the Golem was growing larger and larger, he feared that the Golem would destroy the universe. He then removed the Holy Name that was embedded on his forehead, thus causing him to disintegrate and return to dust. Nonetheless, while he was engaged in extracting the Holy Name from him, the Golem injured him, scarring him on the face."
According to the Polish Kabbalist, "the legend was known to several persons, thus allowing us to speculate that the legend had indeed circulated for some time before it was committed to writing and, consequently, we may assume that its origins are to be traced to the generation immediately following the death of R. Eliyahu, if not earlier."
Rabbi Loew statue at the new town hall of Prague
Rabbi Loew and Golem by Mikoláš Aleš, 1899.
Old New Synagogue of Prague with the rungs of the ladder to the attic on the wall. Legend has Golem lying in the loft
Jewish museum with statue of Golem in Úštěk
The most famous golem narrative involves Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the late 16th century rabbi of Prague, also known as the Maharal, who reportedly created a golem to defend the Prague ghetto from antisemitic attacks and pogroms. Depending on the version of the legend, the Jews in Prague were to be either expelled or killed under the rule of Rudolf II, the Holy Roman Emperor. To protect the Jewish community, the rabbi constructed the Golem out of clay from the banks of the Vltava river, and brought it to life through rituals and Hebrew incantations. The Golem was called Josef and was known as Yossele. It was said that he could make himself invisible and summon spirits from the dead. The only care required of the Golem was that he can't be alive on the day of Sabbath (Saturday). Rabbi Loew deactivated the Golem on Friday evenings by removing the shem before the Sabbath began, so as to let it rest on Sabbath. One Friday evening Rabbi Loew forgot to remove the shem, and feared that the Golem would desecrate the Sabbath. A different story tells of a golem that fell in love, and when rejected, became the violent monster seen in most accounts. Some versions have the golem eventually going on a murderous rampage.
The rabbi then managed to pull the shem from his mouth and immobilize him in front of the synagogue, whereupon the golem fell in pieces. The Golem's body was stored in the attic genizah of the Old New Synagogue, where it would be restored to life again if needed. According to legend, the body of Rabbi Loew's Golem still lies in the synagogue's attic. When the attic was renovated in 1883, no evidence of the Golem was found. Some versions of the tale state that the Golem was stolen from the genizah and entombed in a graveyard in Prague's Žižkov district, where the Žižkov Television Tower now stands. A recent legend tells of a Nazi agent ascending to the synagogue attic during World War II and trying to stab the Golem, but he died instead. A film crew who visited and filmed the attic in 1984 found no evidence either. The attic is not open to the general public.
Some strictly orthodox Jews believe that the Maharal did actually create a golem. Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (the last Rebbe of Lubavitch) wrote that his father-in-law, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, told him that he saw the remains of the Golem in the attic of Alt-Neu Shul. Rabbi Chaim Noach Levin also wrote in his notes on Megillas Yuchsin that he heard directly from Rabbi Yosef Shaul Halevi, the head of the Rabbinical court of Lemberg, that when he wanted to go see the remains of the Golem, the sexton of the Alt-Neu Shul said that Rabbi Yechezkel Landau had advised against going up to the attic after he himself had gone up. The evidence for this belief has been analyzed from an orthodox Jewish perspective by Shnayer Z. Leiman.
Sources of the Prague narrative
The general view of historians and critics is that the story of the Golem of Prague was a German literary invention of the early 19th century. According to Robert Zucker, "the golem legend about R. Chełm moved to Prague and became related with" Rabbi Loew of Prague about mid-18th century. According to John Neubauer, the first writers on the Prague Golem were:
• 1837: Berthold Auerbach, Spinoza
• 1841: Gustav Philippson, Der Golam, eine Legende
• 1841: Franz Klutschak, Der Golam des Rabbi Löw
• 1842: Adam Tendlau Der Golem des Hoch-Rabbi-Löw
• 1847: Leopold Weisel, Der Golem
There is also a published account from 1838, written by the German Czech journalist Franz Klutschack. Cathy Gelbin finds an earlier source in Philippson's The Golem and the Adulteress, published in the Jewish magazine Shulamit in 1834, which describes how the Maharal sent a golem to find the reason for an epidemic among the Jews of Prague, although doubts have been expressed as to whether this date is correct. The earliest known source for the story thus far is the 1834 book Der Jüdische Gil Blas by Josef Seligman Kohn. The story was repeated in Galerie der Sippurim (1847), an influential collection of Jewish tales published by Wolf Pascheles of Prague.
All these early accounts of the Golem of Prague are in German by Jewish writers. It has been suggested that they emerged as part of a Jewish folklore movement parallel with the contemporary German folklore movement and that they may have been based on Jewish oral tradition.
The origins of the story have been obscured by attempts to exaggerate its age and to pretend that it dates from the time of the Maharal. It has been said that Rabbi Yudel Rosenberg (1859–1935) of Tarłów (before moving to Canada where he became one of its most prominent rabbis) originated the idea that the narrative dates from the time of the Maharal. Rosenberg published Nifl'os Maharal (Wonders of Maharal) (Piotrków, 1909) which purported to be an eyewitness account by the Maharal's son-in-law, who had helped to create the Golem. Rosenberg claimed that the book was based upon a manuscript that he found in the main library in Metz. Wonders of Maharal "is generally recognized in academic circles to be a literary hoax". Gershom Sholem observed that the manuscript "contains not ancient legends but modern fiction". Rosenberg's claim was further disseminated in Chayim Bloch's (1881–1973) The Golem, legends of the Ghetto of Prague (English edition 1925). The Golem of Prague story was recounted in the Simpsons episode "Treehouse of Horror XVII by Krusty the Clown (who himself is Jewish) as the Golem (voiced by Richard Lewis) being built to defend the Jewish people by accepting requests placed in his mouth.
The Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906 cites the historical work Zemach David by David Gans, a disciple of the Maharal, published in 1592. In it, Gans writes of an audience between the Maharal and Rudolph II: "Our lord the emperor ... Rudolph ... sent for and called upon our master Rabbi Low ben Bezalel and received him with a welcome and merry expression, and spoke to him face to face, as one would to a friend. The nature and quality of their words are mysterious, sealed and hidden." But it has been said of this passage, "Even when [the Maharal is] eulogized, whether in David Gans' Zemach David or on his epitaph …, not a word is said about the creation of a golem. No Hebrew work published in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries (even in Prague) is aware that the Maharal created a golem." Furthermore, the Maharal himself did not refer to the Golem in his writings. Rabbi Yedidiah Tiah Weil (1721–1805), a Prague resident, who described the creation of golems, including those created by Rabbis Avigdor Kara of Prague (died 1439) and Eliyahu of Chelm, did not mention the Maharal, and Rabbi Meir Perels' biography of the Maharal published in 1718 does not mention a golem.
The Golem of Vilna
There is a similar tradition relating to the Vilna Gaon or "the saintly genius from Vilnius" (1720–1797). Rabbi Chaim Volozhin (Lithuania 1749–1821) reported in an introduction to Siphra Dzeniouta (1818) that he once presented to his teacher, the Vilna Gaon, ten different versions of a certain passage in the Sefer Yetzira and asked the Gaon to determine the correct text. The Gaon immediately identified one version as the accurate rendition of the passage. The amazed student then commented to his teacher that, with such clarity, he should easily be able to create a live human. The Gaon affirmed Rabbi Chaim's assertion, and said that he once began to create a person when he was a child, under the age of 13, but during the process he received a sign from Heaven ordering him to desist because of his tender age. The Vilna Gaon wrote an extensive commentary on the Sefer Yetzira, Kol HaTor, in which it is said that he had tried to create a Golem to fight the power of evil at the Gates of Jerusalem. As far as we know, the Vilna Gaon was the only rabbi who had actually claimed that he tried to create a Golem; all such stories about other rabbis were told after their time.
The existence of a golem is sometimes a mixed blessing. Golems are not intelligent, and if commanded to perform a task, they will perform the instructions literally. In many depictions Golems are inherently perfectly obedient. In its earliest known modern form, the Golem of Chełm became enormous and uncooperative. In one version of this story, the rabbi had to resort to trickery to deactivate it, whereupon it crumbled upon its creator and crushed him. There is a similar hubris theme in Frankenstein, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and some golem-derived stories in popular culture. The theme also manifests itself in R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), Karel Čapek's 1921 play which coined the term robot; the play was written in Prague, and while Čapek denied that he modeled the robot after the Golem, there are many similarities in the plot.
Statue of the Prague Golem created for the film The Emperor and the Golem
Culture of the Czech Republic
The Golem is a popular figure in the Czech Republic. There are several restaurants and other businesses whose names make reference to the creature, a Czech strongman (René Richter) goes by the nickname "Golem", and a Czech monster truck outfit calls itself the "Golem Team".
Abraham Akkerman preceded his article on human automatism in the contemporary city with a short satirical poem on a pair of golems turning human.
Clay Boy variation
A Yiddish and Slavic folktale is the Clay Boy, which combines elements of the Golem and The Gingerbread Man, in which a lonely couple make a child out of clay, with disastrous or comical consequences. In one common Russian version, an older couple whose children have left home make a boy out of clay, and dry him by their hearth. The Clay Boy comes to life; at first the couple are delighted and treat him like a real child, but the Clay Boy does not stop growing, and eats all their food, then all their livestock, and then the Clay Boy eats his parents. The Clay Boy rampages through the village until he is smashed by a quick-thinking goat.
Golem in the 20th and 21st centuries
Golem movie poster (1920)
Mainstream European society adopted the golem in the early 20th century. Most notably, Gustav Meyrink's 1914 novel Der Golem is loosely inspired by the tales of the golem created by Rabbi Loew. Another famous treatment from the same era is H. Leivick's 1921 Yiddish-language "dramatic poem in eight sections", The Golem. In 1923, Roumanian composer Nicolae Bretan wrote the one-act opera The Golem, first performed the following year in Cluj and later revived in Denver, Colorado, US in 1990. Nobel prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer also wrote a version of the legend, and Elie Wiesel wrote a children's book on the legend.
In 1958, Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges published a poem about the golem using the image of the golem creature and the creator/creature Rabbi Loew, called Juda Leon. The work addressed a circular argument among the creator and the creation, the name, and the meaning of the name using the argument of Cratylus.
Jorge Luis Borges
Translated by James Honzik
If (as affirms the Greek in the Cratylus)
the name is archetype of the thing,
in the letters of “rose” is the rose,
and all the Nile flows through the word.
Made of consonants and vowels,
there is a terrible Name,
that in its essence encodes God’s all,
power, guarded in letters, in hidden syllables.
Adam and the stars knew it in the Garden.
It was corroded by sin (the Cabalists say),
time erased it, and generations
The artifice and candor of man go on without end.
We know that there was a time in
which the people of God searched for the Name
through the ghetto’s midnight hours.
But not in that manner of those others
whose vague shades insinuate into vague history,
his memory is still green and lives,
Judá the Lion the rabbi of Prague.
In his thirst to know the knowledge of God
Judá permutated the alphabet through complex variations
and in the end
pronounced the name that is the Key
the Door, the Echo, the Guest, and the Palace,
over a mannequin shaped with awkward hands,
teaching it the arcane knowledge of
symbols, of Time and Space.
The simulacrum raised its sleepy eyelids,
saw forms and colors that it did not understand,
and confused by our babble
made fearful movements.
Gradually it was seen to be (as we are)
imprisoned in a reverberating net of
Before, Later, Yesterday, While, Now, Right, Left,
I, You, Those, Others.
The Cabalists who celebrated this mysterium,
this vast creature, named it Golem.
(Written about by Scholem,
in a learned passage of his volume.)
The rabbi explained the universe to him,
“This is my foot, this yours, and this the rope,”
but all that happened, after years,
was that the creature swept the synagogue badly.
Perhaps there was an error in the word
or in the articulation of the Sacred Name;
in spite of the highest esoteric arts
this apprentice of man did not learn to speak.
Its eyes uncanny,
less like man than dog and much less than dog but thing
following the rabbi through the doubtful
shadows of the stones of its confinement.
There was something
abnormal and coarse in the Golem,
at its step the rabbi’s cat fled in fear.
(That cat not from Scholem but of the blind seer)
It would ape the rabbi’s devotions,
raising its hands to the sky,
or bend over, stupidly smiling,
into hollow Eastern salaams.
The rabbi watched it tenderly but
with some horror. How (he said)
could I engender this laborious son?
Better to have done nothing, this is insanity.
Why did I give to the infinite
series a symbol more? To the coiled skein
on which the eternal thing is wound,
I gave another cause, another effect, another grief.
In this hour of anguish and vague light,
on the Golem our eyes have stopped.
Who will say the things to us that God felt,
at the sight of his rabbi in Prague?
Jorge Luis Borges – 1958
In 1974, Marvel Comics published three Strange Tales comic books that included a golem character, and later series included variations of the golem idea.
Piers Anthony's Apprentice Adept series of novels (1980–1990), which features two parallel worlds—one ruled by technology and the other by magic—draws a parallel between robots and golems. Additionally, Grundy the Golem is a character in his Xanth series.
The novels of Terry Pratchett in the fictional setting of Discworld also include several golems as characters. For example, they are a plot device in the 1996 novel Feet of Clay, in which the golems create their own golem. The golems of Discworld are also much more intelligent than most representations; though still bound to obedience, if they feel they are mistreated they will take an obstructively literal interpretation of their orders as a form of rebellion. The golems also figure into the sub-series featuring "Moist von Lipwig" that begins with "Going Postal." Von Lipwig's love interest, "Adora Belle Dearheart", runs the Golem Trust, whose purpose is to free all golems on the Discworld. Although this also becomes the stated purpose of the golem Dorfl from Feet of Clay, he and the Golem Trust have not interacted professionally as of Making Money.
Golem is a 1996 children's book by David Wisniewski that tells the illustrated story of the golem.
In Cynthia Ozick's 1997 novel The Puttermesser Papers, a modern Jewish woman, Ruth Puttermesser, creates a female golem out of the dirt in her flowerpots to serve as the daughter she never had. The golem helps Puttermesser become elected Mayor of New York before it begins to run out of control. Pete Hamill's 1997 novel Snow In August includes a story of a rabbi from Prague who has a golem.
A recent representation of a golem by illustrator Philippe Semeria. The Hebrew letters on the creature's head read "emet", meaning "truth". In some versions of the Chełm and Prague narratives, the Golem is killed by removing the first letter, making the word spell "met," meaning "dead."
Michael Chabon's 2000 novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, features one of the protagonists, escape artist Josef Kavalier, smuggling himself out of Prague along with the golem. Petrie describes the theme of escape in the novel, culminating in Kavalier's own drawing of a modern graphic novel centered around a golem.
In James Sturm's 2001 graphic novel The Golem's Might Swing, a Jewish baseball team in the 1920s creates a golem to help them win their games. The 2004 novel, The Golem's Eye by Jonathan Stroud, revolves around a golem.
In the Michael Scott novel "The Alchemyst", the immortal Dr. John Dee attacked Nicholas Flamel with two golems, which, along with being made of mud, each had a pair of shiny stone "eyes".
Jonathan Stroud's children's fantasy book The Golem's Eye centers around a golem created by magicians in an alternate London. The story depicts the golem as being impervious to magical attacks. The golem is finally destroyed by removing the creation parchment from its mouth.
In Byron L. Sherwin's 2006 novel "The Cubs and the Kabbalist", rabbis create a golem named Sandy Greenberg to help baseball's Chicago Cubs win the World Series.
In 2009, horror writer Edward Lee released the novel Golemesque, later retitled The Golem when released in mass market paperback form in which corpses are transformed into golems via mystic rites performed by a satanic sect of Kaballah and by covering the bodies with special clay taken from the banks of the Vltava river in the Czech Republic.
The BioWare role-playing video game series Dragon Age includes Golems as a group of warriors built by dwarves to battle the dark spawn. The 2009 Dragon Age: Origins introduces them, with the golem Shale as a possible companion, and they also appear in the 2011 game Dragon Age II.
In 2010, medieval mystery author Jeri Westerson, depicted her version of a golem terrifying the streets of fourteenth century London in the third book of her Crispin Guest series, The Demon's Parchment.
In the 2013 Helene Wecker novel The Golem and the Jinni, the golem is a female creature named Chava who is brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who practices dark Kabbalistic magic.
In the 2013 Charlayne Crawford novel The Golem & The Tzaddik, the golem, named Yossi, kills government agents who persecute Anna Silverman. In a sequel, The Golem Of Fire Mountain, Crawford resurrects the golem, when more evil agents come to town to destroy the golem and kill Anna.
In the 2014 Jonathan Kellerman and Jesse Kellerman novel The Golem of Hollywood, the golem of Prague comes to 21st century Los Angeles to exact justice on a serial killer.
Appearances in film and television
• Inspired by Gustav Meyrink's novel was a classic set of expressionistic silent movies (1915–1920), Paul Wegener's Golem series, of which The Golem: How He Came into the World (also released as The Golem, 1920, USA 1921: the only surviving film of the trilogy) is especially famous. In the first film the golem is revived in modern times before falling from a tower and breaking apart.
• Also notable is Julien Duvivier's Le Golem (1936), a French/Czechoslovakian sequel to the Wegener film.
• A golem had a main role now in the color 1951 Czech movie Císařův pekař a pekařův císař released in the US as The Emperor and the Golem. In The Emperor and the Golem, the shem used to activate the Golem had the form of a small ball placed in his forehead.
• In Terry Pratchett's Going Postal, Golems are derived from golems in Jewish mythology; early forms of a clay robot, supposedly awakened by a spell or priestly words to do people's bidding.
• A 1966 British/American film entitled It!, starring Roddy McDowall, was about a golem.
• The Golem of Prague figures prominently in "Golem," a second-season episode of the animated series Gargoyles. One of the characters trying to re-animate it is a descendant of Rabbi Loew.
• A 1997 episode of Chris Carter's television series The X-Files, called "Kaddish" (S4E15), was focused on golems. The plot involved a Jewish man dying from an anti-Semitic attack, then being resurrected by his fiancée to kill the men who murdered him. A golem-like creature can also be seen in a 1999 episode "Arcadia" (S6E15).
• A 1997 episode of Extreme Ghostbusters features a golem, created by the son of a rabbi after their synagogue was vandalized by an anti-Semitic gang.
• In 2006, the "Treehouse of Horror XVII" episode of the animated sitcom The Simpsons featured a male and a female golem in the segment "You Gotta Know When to Golem." The two characters were voiced by Richard Lewis and Fran Drescher.
• In Quentin Tarantino's 2008 black comedy war film Inglourious Basterds, Eli Roth's character Sgt. Donny Donowitz is referred to by German soldiers as a golem. Adolf Hitler reacts with fury when informed by an officer of the myths surrounding this certain foe.
• In 2010, the third episode of the BBC show Sherlock, "The Great Game" (S1E3), features an assassin called "the Golem."
• In 2012, two back-to-back episodes of the children's horror series R. L. Stine's The Haunting Hour: The Series featured a golem. The two-part episode, "The Golem" (S3E10&11), tells a story of a golem that was raised by a ved'ma during the second world war to protect a small, Russian village from German soldiers. The ved'ma, named Nadia, keeps the golem dormant thereafter, but as she grows weak on her deathbed, she finds herself no longer able to keep the golem dormant. The golem resurrects and begins terrorising the Russian village it once saved. Nadia's grandchildren, Jeremy and Bonnie, visit the village and lay the golem to rest for good. Jeremy achieves this by blowing a few of his grandmother's ashes onto the golem.
• In 2013, the fantasy/horror series Supernatural episode "Everybody Hates Hitler" (S8E13) features a golem that is used by a secret association of rabbis. The show explains that the golem has been a protector for the Jewish people for years, especially in times of war or genocide. Specifically, this golem, created by the Judah Initiative during the Holocaust, is being used to fight a society of Nazi necromancers called the Thule Society. Unlike most golem, it can speak and frequently voices its disapproval of the fact that its new master is not an observant Jew.
• In Shonen Jump's Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal; the main protagonist Yuma Tsukumo, uses a monster card known as Gogogo Golem in his deck.
• In 2014 in the Grimm S04E04 a Golem was called upon by a Rabbi to protect his nephew but it starts killing everyone who scared the boy.
Golems appear in the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons (first published in the 1970s), and the influence of Dungeons and Dragons has led to the inclusion of golems in other video games and in tabletop role-playing games.
• Golem is also a dual Rock/Ground type creature (Pokémon #76) in the video game series, animated TV show, and card game Pokémon. Golem is the evolved form of Graveler, who is in turn the evolved form of Geodude, and they all first appeared in the 1996 game Pokémon Red and Blue. Regirock, Registeel, and Regice are legendary Pokémon introduced in Generation III were based on the Hebrew Golems; therefore, the name for the trio is the Legendary Golems. A fourth golem and the master of the trio, Regigigas, was introduced in Generation IV. Generation V introduced two other Pokémon heavily based on the Golem: Golett and Golurk. Golett was supposedly created by ancient scientists as a defense, and Golurk's seal on his chest controls his internal energy, and it is said it loses control of that energy once the seal is removed.
• The 1995 Cyberdreams computer game adaptation of the Harlan Ellison story, "I Have no Mouth, and I Must Scream" (1967), features a golem which must be summoned to free prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp.
• The golem of Prague is mentioned in a side-story in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (outside the Animus), where he tried to assassinate the narrator's father
• A battle with the Golem of Prague features in Vampire the Masquerade Redemption.
• In the PC game Diablo II the Necromancer can learn to summon Golems. These can have either clay, blood, iron or fire form.
• In the mobile game Clash of Clans, the Golem appears as one of the final Dark Elixir Troops. Its main trait is heavy defense.
• Czech folklore
• The Gingerbread Man and Kolobok (edible "golems")
1. Idel, Moshe (1990). Golem: Jewish Magical and Mystical Traditions on the Artificial Anthropoid. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-0160-X. page 296
2. Introduction to "The Golem Returns". Retrieved 2011-09-23.
3. J. Simpson, E. Weiner, ed. (1989). "golem". Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-861186-2.
4. GOLEM. Jewish Encyclopedia. Retrieved on 2011-09-23.
5. Zucker, Robert (2007–2011). "17th Century". "Sefer Yetzirah" Time Line. Retrieved February 11, 2013. citing an anonymous 1630 manuscript concerning the Golem of Chelm. See also Introduction to "The Golem Returns" citing Johannes Reuchlin (1492).
6. The Golem Legend
7. Trachtenberg, Joshua (2004) [Originally published 1939]. Jewish Magic and Superstition. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 86. ISBN 9780812218626.
8. Trachtenberg, Joshua (2004) [Originally published 1939]. Jewish Magic and Superstition. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 85. ISBN 9780812218626.
9. Gelbin, C . S., The Golem Returns – From German Romantic Literature to Global Jewish Culture, 1808–2008, University of Michigan, 2011
10. שו"ת שאילת יעב"ץ, ח"ב, סי' פ"ב. Cf. his בירת מגדל עוז, Altona, 1748, p. 259a; מטפחת ספרים, Altona, 1768, p. 45a; and מגילת ספר, ed. Kahana, Warsaw, 1896, p. 4. See also שו"ת חכם צבי, סי' צ"ג, and the references cited in שו"ת חכם צבי עם ליקוטי הערות, Jerusalem, 1998, vol. 1, p. 421 and in the periodical כפר חב"ד, number 351 (1988), p. 51. Cited by Leiman, S.Z., "Did a Disciple of the Maharal Create a Golem?"
11. The tradition is also recorded in ה לחורבנה / תל-אביב : ארגון יוצאי חלם בישראל ובארה"ב, תשמ"א
12. Bilefsky, Dan (May 10, 2009). "Hard Times Give New Life to Prague's Golem". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-03-19. According to Czech legend, the Golem was fashioned from clay and brought to life by a rabbi to protect Prague's 16th-century ghetto from persecution, and is said to be called forth in times of crisis. True to form, he is once again experiencing a revival and, in this commercial age, has spawned a one-monster industry.
13. Leiman, S. Z., The Golem of Prague in Recent Rabbinic Literature
14. Lee-Parritz, Oren. "The Golem Lives On". jewishpost.com. Retrieved 12 January 2011.[dead link]
15. Old New Synagogue located in Praha, Czech Republic|Atlas Obscura|Curious and Wondrous Travel Destinations. Atlas Obscura. Retrieved on 2011-09-23.
16. מגילת יוחסין. HebrewBooks.org (in Hebrew). Retrieved March 18, 2013.
17. Rabbi Yehudah Yudel Rosenberg. Rabbi Yehudah Yudel Rosenberg. Retrieved on 2011-09-23.
18. Leiman, S.Z., " The Adventure of The Maharal of Prague in London: R. Yudl Rosenberg and The Golem of Prague", Tradition, 36:1, 2002
19. Robert Zucker (2007–2011). "18th Century". "Sefer Yetzirah" Time Line. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
20. Neubauer, J., "How did the Golem get to Prague?", in Cornis-Pope, M., and Neubauer, J. History of The Literary Cultures of East-Central Europe, John Benjamins, 2010
21. Historical Figures of the golem legend
22. See also Jewish Encyclopedia (1906): "A legend connected with [the Maharal's] Golem is given in German verse by Gustav Philippson in Allg. Zeit. des Jud. 1841, No. 44 (abridged in Sulamith, viii. 254; translated into Hebrew in Kokebe Yiẓḥaḳ, No. 28, p. 75, Vienna, 1862)"
23. The real new earliest known source in print for the Golem of Prague?. Onthemainline.blogspot.com (2011-03-04). Retrieved on 2011-09-23.
24. The new earliest known source in print for the Golem of Prague. Onthemainline.blogspot.com (2011-03-03). Retrieved on 2011-09-23.
25. Kohn, J. S., Der jüdische Gil Blas, Leipzig, 1834, p.20
26. Golems, forgeries and images of disrobed women in rabbinic literature. Onthemainline.blogspot.com (2010-05-06). Retrieved on 2011-09-23.
27. Rabbi Yehudah Yudel Rosenberg and the Maharal's Golem
28. "נפלאות מהר"ל". HebrewBooks.org. OCLC 233117563. Retrieved March 18, 2013.
29. Sherwin, Byron L. (1985) The Golem Legend: Origins and Implications. New York: University Press of America
30. Sholem, G., Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, Schocken, 1961
31. HUNGARIAN STUDIES 2. No. 2. Nemzetközi Magyar Filológiai Társaság. Akadémiai Kiadó Budapest . (PDF) . Retrieved on 2011-09-23.
32. Gans, D., Zemach David, ed. M.Breuer, Jerusalem, 1983, p.145, cited Rabbi Yehudah Yudel Rosenberg and the Maharal's Golem
33. Meir Perels (1718). Megilas Yuchsin. Prague. OCLC 122864700.
34. Sefer Detail: ספרא דצניעותא – אליהו ב"ר שלמה זלמן מווילנא (הגר"א). Hebrewbooks.org. Retrieved on 2011-09-23.
35.  See also discussion in Hans Ludwig Held, Das Gespenst des Golem, eine Studie aus d. hebräischen Mystik mit einem Exkurs über das Wesen des Doppelgängers, München 1927
36. Sefer Detail: ספר יצירה ע"פ הגר"א. Hebrewbooks.org. Retrieved on 2011-09-23.
37. [WorldCat.org] (1942-01-31). Retrieved on 2011-09-23
38. Karel Capek. "R.U.R.- Rossums Universal Robots". translation by Voyen Koreis
39. Akkerman, Abraham (2003–2004). "Philosophical Urbanism and Deconstruction in City-Form: An Environmental Ethos for the Twenty-First Century". Structurist. 43/44: 48–61. Published also as Paper CTS-04-06 by the Center for Theoretical Study, Prague.
40. Cronan, Mary W. (1917). "Lutoschenka". The Story Teller's Magazine 5 (1): 7–9.
41. Ginsburg, Mirra (1997). Clay Boy. New York: Greenwillow. ISBN 9780688144098.
42. Weiner, Robert G (2011). "Marvel Comics and the Golem Legend". Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 29 (2): 50–72. doi:10.1353/sho.2011.0044. Golem Proper in Marvel Comics ... first Golem issue, Strange Tales #174
43. Lipsyte, Robert (May 4, 1997). "Shazam!". New York Times on the Web. Retrieved 24 February 2012. kabbala and the golem. ... rabbi, a lonely refugee from Prague.
44. Petrie, Windy Counsell (2007). "For Illumination and Escape: Writing and Rgeneration in 21st Century Jewish-American Literature". LITERATÛRA 49 (5): 105–107. ISSN 0258-0802. Jewish Golem out of Prague into Vilnius
45. http://stopyourekillingme.com/W_Authors ... _Jeri.html
46. PC Gamer, "How Dungeons & Dragons shaped the modern videogame"
47. "Clash of Clans Golem".
• Baer, Elizabeth R. (2012). The Golem Redux: From Prague to Post-Holocaust Fiction. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University. ISBN 0814336264.
• Bilski, Emily B. (1988). Golem! Danger, Deliverance and Art. New York: The Jewish Museum. ISBN 978-0873340496.
• Bloch, Chayim; tr. Schneiderman, H. (1987). The Golem: Mystical Tales of the Ghetto of Prague (English translation from German. First published in 'Oestereschischen Wochenschrift' 1917). New York: Rudolf Steiner Publications. ISBN 0833400258.
• Bokser, Ben Zion (2006). From the World of the Cabbalah. New York: Kessinger.
• Chihaia, Matei (2011). Der Golem-Effekt. Orientierung und phantastische Immersion im Zeitalter des Kinos. Bielefeld: transcript. ISBN 978-3-8376-1714-6.
• Faucheux, Michel (2008). Norbert Wiener, le golem et la cybernétique. Paris: Editions du Sandre.
• Dennis, Geoffrey (2007). The Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic, and Mysticism. Woodbury (MN): Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN 0-7387-0905-0.
• Winkler, Gershon (1980). The Golem of Prague: A New Adaptation of the Documented Stories of the Golem of Prague. New York: Judaica Press. ISBN 0-910818-25-8.
• Goldsmith, Arnold L. (1981). The Golem Remembered 1909–1980: Variations of a Jewish Legend. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0814316832.
• Montiel, Luis (30 June 2013). "Proles sine matre creata: The Promethean Urge in the History of the Human Body in the West". Asclepio 65 (1): p001. doi:10.3989/asclepio.2013.01.
• Idel, Mosche (1990). Golem: Jewish Magical and Mystical Traditions on the Artificial Anthropoid. Albany (NY): State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-0160-X.
• Rosenberg, Yudl; tr. Leviant, Curt (2008). The Golem and the Wondrous deeds of the Maharal of Prague (first English translation of original in Hebrew, Pietrkow, Poland, 1909). Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-12204-6.
• Tomek, V.V. (1932). Pražské židovské pověsti a legendy. Prague: Končel. Translated (2008) as Jewish Stories of Prague, Jewish Prague in History and Legend. ISBN 1-4382-3005-2.