Kabbalah: Golem

Techniques to make a golem

Kabbalah's Secret Circles by Robert ZuckerNew 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.

By Robert Zucker

The procedures to enliven a golem are found hidden between the lines of the Book of Creation (the "Sefer Yetzirah.") While the instruction are quite clear, they are incomplete and purpously distorted. Some descriptions are deceptively wrong.

To know exactly how to form a golem, one must understand how the original golem producers learned their skills. These methods are based on several techniques common among all Jewish mysticism instructions throughout history.

In Kabbalah's Secret Circles, one method uses a Kabbalah Wheel to spin the 231 Gates needed to produce a golem. This easy-to-make homemade devise is more convenient than memorizing the 231 combinations of letters.

Make a golem, Elezar of Worms

These are the original Hebrew instructions by Eleazar of Worms, during the 12th century, to make a golem.

Making a Golem in the Middle Ages

There were three popular techniques during the Medieval Askenazi Hasidic period, c. 1200-mid 13th century AD, Germany. These steps are derived from more ancient sources.

"To create a golem you recite combinations that begin with the first eleven letters of the Hebrew alphabet; to undo this act of creation (render a golem lifeless) you recite letter combination beginning with the second half of the Hebrew alphabet." (Golem!, p11)

Spread dust in which the 3 letters spelling ADM (use Hebrew letters) (the word mean 'man') are written, followed by the recitation of letters. A golem emerges from the unformed dust through the power in the Hebrew letters.

The origins probably much earlier than medieval times when 3 letters AMT (truth) are written on forehead, golem appears. When first letter is erased, leaving the word met (he is dead), the golem becomes lifeless.


Creating a Golem in Northern France, c. 1200-1250AD

R. Abraham ibn Ezra, author of commentary on SY is now lost. In "Sefer Ha-Hayyim (Book of Life)" attributed to R. Ezra, the golem is connected to the influence of the planets.

The circle of the Special Cherubim engaged in long discussions about creating golem. They also used the combinations of the Hebrew letters; recited the letters along with moving in a circle around the molded dust; and destroy the golem by reciting the original combination of letters backwards and going in the opposite direction.

Gershom Scholem found in a medieval MS a version of a creation of a human by Enoch when his contemporaries pushed him to demonstrate the way of creation of man by Gd:

"He collected dust and kneaded it [gibbelo] and He breathed in it the spirit of life. They told him: "How is it possible to do such a thing? Sit it [to us] by the deed of [your] hands in its form and structure, [just} as He did."

And they compelled him, so that he took dust and kneaded it and made it in the likeness of man and its image, and afterward he breathed in it the spirit of life, in order to show them the deed of the Holy One, Blessed be He.

Then Satan came to show [himself] [lehizdakker] in this deed, and the statute turned alive. And a demon entered it and all the generation erred because of it and they made it an object of idolatrous worship.

Then idolatry began to be designated by the name of G-d, and since then all those who sinned because of it [the statue or perhaps 'he' that is Enosh] make statues in the image of man." (Scholem, Idea of the Golem, 402)

R. Eleazar of Worms and Abulafia had two distinct steps in the creation process:

  1. the combinations of the alphabets (231 Gates)
  2. and the combinations of the letters of the Divne Name (4 letter Name of G-d - YHVH)

There may also be a third step to combine the alphabets with the combinations of the Divine Name. The Divine Name has special connection with the infusing vitality (hiyyut) and soul (neshamah).

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Dancing or Circling around the Golem

The techniques used is the device of dancing. The "Commentary on Sefer Yetzirah," by pseudo-Sa'adiyah is the only place though that discusses this method.

The use of circles in magical processes was well known. The circle has a preventative role. Pseudo-Sa'adiyah uses the term "mahol." Circling around an enemy was used in Biblical times during Jericho. Only in the above cited example is the decription of circling around a golem used.

The dance may be part of a technique to induce an ecstatic trance. It was also a mystical as well as material creation, according to Pseudo-Saadia.

The custom of ten righteous persons who circumambulate the dead before he is buried in order to undo the evil spirits which originate from his seed. (See Meir Benayahu, "Studies in Meemory of the Rishon Le-Zion R. Yitzhak Nissim (1985), p 120-5, esp. 121, n. 69 [Hebrew]).  According to some 17th c versions of this practice, people perform this ritual while pronouncing Divine Names, mainly the 42 letter Name, divided among the 7 circumambulaions the persons are doing (See M. Idel, "Shelmo Molko as Magician," Sefinot, vol. 3 (1985), p 195-8 [Hebrew])

In both cases, a human figure is at the center of the circumabulance; and in both cases it is an inanimate body and Divine Names are recited. The end effects are different, although  the basic structure of the ritual is the same.

Only in the Prague golem version by Rosenberg is a direct link between the circumambulation dance and the burial rituals of the Ashkenazi. (See Chajim Bloch, Kovetz, Miktavim Mekoriim (Vienna, 1923), p 89).

The affinities with this version and the rite of burial is great:

1. the number 7 connected with the circumambulations

2. the recitations of special formulas during these acts

3. and the situation of a body found in the center of the circle.

Rosenberg version only one to combine the burial of the dead ceremony with the golem creation. It is unknown whether its source is from the early 20th c. by the Hasid, or reflect an older tradition.

Another unique feature of the Pseudo-S. is that the golem is buried before the beginning of the process of permutating letters. Only after the burial it seems it is capable of developing into the animated creature.

Psalm 139 where the golem is mentioned in the "lowest part of the earth." may be a connection. The golem must be buried to emerge as a more advanced form of being. Earth serves as the womb of the embryo, the procedure which follows the burial causes the golem to emerge from the earth, as a process of extracting it from the womb and only later on, animates the body. (See Idel, Golem)

Demolishing the golem

Reduce the golem to its dust by recitation of a certain part of the combined alphabets- the L to T combinations. According to Idel (p. 120) R. Eleazar accepting the technique of undoing the Golem "by using the combinations of the alphabets from 'AL to 'AT."

Kabbalah's Secret Circles by Robert ZuckerRead some of the chapters of Kabbalah's Secret Circles and download a free PDF sample of the book to preview. This page contains notes from the book on the traditional way how to construct a golem.


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