Basic Golem Narrative

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Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the Maharal (Hebrew acronym of "Moreinu ha-Rav Loew) of Prague (capital of Bohemia) created the Golem in 1580 under the reign of Emperor Rudolf II. Rabbi Loew created the Golem out of mud to protect the Jews from pogroms. Jews were being persecuted for alleged Blood Libel: they had been accused of killing Christian children and using their blood to make Passover matzo.

There are two stories about how the Golem was brought to life: a shem, piece of paper with God’s secret name written on it, was placed into his mouth, or the word for “truth” (emet) written on his forehead to bring it to life and by erasing the “e” (leaving met (death), the Golem crumbled into dust.

At first the Golem helped the Rabbi’s wife with household chores but he had no reasoning capacity and would only do exactly what he was told. One story is that when the Golem was asked to fetch water, he brought bucket after bucket into the home until it was flooded.

When mobs stormed the Jewish ghetto intent on revenge against the Jews, the Golem went out of control, running amok killing Christians right and left.
When Rudolf II got wind of the Golem, Rabbi Loew agreed to deactivate it. Its remains were entombed in the attic of the Prague synagogue.

Elaborations to the story:
• The Golem is named Josef.
• The Rabbi has an assistant help him collect the mud.
• The Golem becomes sentient and questions why he has been created.
• Josef falls in love with the Rabbi’s maid.
• Josef goes to school.
• The Golem doesn’t want to die.
Isaac Bashevis Singer The Golem (book)
H. Leivick The Golem (play)