The Mysterious Golem

One of the strangest teachings of Kabbalah concerns the creation of the legendary golem. Some kabbalists claim that, with the right ingredients (such as clay) and the pronouncement of proper formulas, pious kabbalists can create soulless, man-like creatures called golems and bring them to life.

Golem means “shapeless matter.” The term appears only once in Scripture, where the psalmist declared that God had seen “my substance, being yet unformed” (Ps. 139:16). The most famous golem in Jewish folklore is the one supposedly brought to life by Rabbi Judah Loew of 16th-century Prague. His golem was over 11 feet tall and is said to have protected the Jews of Prague from those who accused them of the infamous “blood libel.” Legend says that, when the golem continued to grow and began to run amuck, Rabbi Loew had to destroy him. Some believe the legend was the basis for Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein.

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