"Golem"- an inert, shapeless matter, lump of clay or earth. - a being with a body but without a soul.
New book on the how to create a golem through the legends and history of Kabbalah and the Book of Creation, Kabbalah's Secret Circles! Read some of the chapters and download a free PDF sample of the book to preview. This page contains notes from the book.
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":
(image right) Instructions in Hebrew on how to create a golem from Rabbi Eleazar of Wormes (Worms).
Scholem says for the Ashkenazi Hasidim:
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