The Golem of Prague

MrRING

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#1
Okay:

In the legend of the Golem, isn't it a particular Rabbi and a particular synagogue that the Golem was stored in and eventually left when the letter for life was rubbed out?

Does this building still exist? Or is the Golem considered just a story or myth with no basis in reality?

And why did the Golem go crazy and attack people according to the story?

Here is a nice recap of the story of Rabbi Loeb's creation of the creature:

http://www.pantheon.org/articles/r/rabbi_loeb.html
 
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Anonymous

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#2
That would be Rabbi Loew (not Loeb). The Golem was supposedly left beneath a pile of old prayer scrolls in the attic of the Old New Synagogue in Prague (which still exists and which I've visited), where (being made of clay) it probably crumbled to dust.
 

MrRING

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#3
Ged -

Did the people there view it as just a legend or a genuine religious moment?

Also, the site I linked to said you could still see the Golem's outline.... I'm guessing you didn't...:(
 

many_angled_one

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#4
Only thing I know about it is that it was in the Vampire: The Masquerade : Redemption computer game. Basically the golem had a prayer tablet embedded in it's forehead that animated it ...in the game that is.

hmm... i shall have a look at the real legends.
 

Inhabitant

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#7
I've been meaning to read it for a while now, maybe I'll get round to it soon.

I picked up a German early silent film take on the Golem legend a few months ago on DVD - it was really impressive, incredibly atmospheric. Creepy in the same way that the original "Nosferatu" is.
 

Breakfastologist

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#8
Said golem also recieves some fictional visits in "Feet of Clay" by Madge Piercy (strongly recommended) and "Maxie's Demon" by Michael Scott Rohan (good, but not up to the standard of his other Spiral books).
 

gremlinclr

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#9
It!
Year: 1966
Director: Herbert J. Leder
Stars: Roddy McDowall, Jill Haworth, Ernest Clark, Paul Maxwell, Aubrey Richards
Genre: Horror, Trash
Rating: 0 Votes
Review: The only feature-length British movie to be based on the Eastern European legend of The Golem, It! is a peculiarly though unsuccessfully ambitious effort. Roddy McDowall plays Arthur Pimm, assistant curator at a musty, relic-filled museum, who discovers the ancient, 8-foot clay figure following a fire at a nearby warehouse – while Pimm’s attentions are elsewhere, the impressive, imposing Golem appears to murder his boss (Ernest Clark at his most dapper and urbane), and Arthur starts to get ideas. Before long, he’s controlling the gigantic stone man to do his bidding, corpses begin piling up, and the police start taking as much interest in Pimm as he does towards alluring museum employee Jill Haworth (paucity of budget allows for a modish hairdo for the female lead, but unfortunately very little in the way of trendy accompanying outfits). The addition of a would-be Norman Bates angle, with the nervous McDowall keeping his late mother’s decayed body around the house for conversation purposes, over-eggs the pudding somewhat since Roddy’s manic performance not only imitates that of Psycho’s Anthony Perkins but at times anticipates the twitchy sarcasm of Jeffrey Combs in the later Re-Animator. As the film lumbers, much in the manner of its title character, to a close, the Golem manages to demolish Hammersmith Bridge before eventually being nuked by the armed forces, but on an outlay of about one-and-ninepence I’ll leave it to you to rate just how spectacular the achieved effects of these mediocre ‘highlights’ really are. It probably all sounded great in the script.
This is a review for a movie I saw a long time ago about the subject. It was cheesy but interesting none the less. :spinning
 

Mythopoeika

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#10
Anyone seen 'The Keep', a really excellent film made in the 80's?
It starred mostly German actors, and was very atmospheric - almost believable.
This film was about a golem held inside a stone keep for hundreds of years. It is set free when the Germans invade during WWII, and starts wreaking its revenge.

http://www.ifilm.com/filmdetail?ifilmid=2320187
 
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Anonymous

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#11
More fictional golems appear in the work of Terry Pratchett and in Michael Chabon's fabulous "The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay". Probably not much use in researching the real thing, though ;)

And, Mythopoeika , I've seen "The Keep" and it is a very good, atmospheric film, although I'm not sure about the "mostly German actors", considering that , admittedly alongside Jurgen Prochnow, it stars Ian McKellen (English), Scott Glenn (American) and Gabriel Byrne (Irish)! And it is most disturbing that the end theme is an instrumental version of "Walking in the Air" from "The Snowman" ... :eek:
 

MrRING

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#12
Here is an amusing anti-"The Keep" site, and it isn't nearly as bad as this site says, since I thought it was a cool film (I'm including the link because I think it's pretty funny).

http://www.ghosts.org/rj/keep.html

And I never knew it was about a golem, although I saw it at a time when I didn't know what a golem was....

BTW, there is also an award winning comic called "The Golem's Mighty Swing" that updates the golem action to an early 20th century baseball club.
 

GodzillaGirl

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#13
I picked up a German early silent film take on the Golem legend a few months ago on DVD - it was really impressive, incredibly atmospheric. Creepy in the same way that the original "Nosferatu" is.
The "Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" has that same creepy silent German film feel, but that was a somnambulist and not a golem. I vaguely remember a silent Russian film with a golem, but I can't remember the name for that one - but I do remember liking it. I also have a children's book about the Golem of Prague somewhere. I'll have to dig that one out of the bookcase.
 

Mythopoeika

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#14
Delbert said:
And, Mythopoeika , I've seen "The Keep" and it is a very good, atmospheric film, although I'm not sure about the "mostly German actors", considering that , admittedly alongside Jurgen Prochnow, it stars Ian McKellen (English), Scott Glenn (American) and Gabriel Byrne (Irish)! And it is most disturbing that the end theme is an instrumental version of "Walking in the Air" from "The Snowman" ... :eek:
OK, that's my memory at fault - I stand corrected. It was filmed in Hungary, I believe. Funny about the tune - this was years before 'Walking in the Air' became famous, I believe.
 
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Anonymous

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#15
I saw The Keep. I was confused, mostly. Also slightly put out by the post-1943 colour scheme on the vehicles when it was meant to be in 1940-41. Tsk.
 

MrRING

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#19
Off my last link, I found this site:

http://www.sff.net/people/d.honigsberg/ravasman.htp

Which is probably the best magical discussion of making a golem that I've read. Seems that the secrets are a combination of knowledge from the Sefer Yetzirah and that at least two people must work on it. Apparently, the terms used are the secret words that God used to create the universe.

An interesting read...
 

MrRING

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#20
An interesting new comic is out by DC about the golem, it's called the Monolith.

Here is a good review:

http://www.popmatters.com/comics/monolith-1.shtml

And an excerpt:
That power is the Monolith, a golem created during the depths of the Depression from the collected rage and frustration of the poor, huddled masses. The creature was a way to strike back at the gangster petty capitalists that ran the streets and controlled opportunities, the raw power of the diverse and disgruntled people who suffered daily in factories and sweatshops for less than pennies. Now, reawaken in modern day New York, it is a chance at redemption for Alice and those like her: the cast-offs.

The Monolith represents everything that is both terrifying and empowering about democracy. It possesses incredible strength, enough raw power to crush nearly anything in its way. Should anyone ever truly mobilize the currently disenfranchised classes in the U.S., they would be a force to be reckoned with. But as that old comic book saying goes, "With great power comes great responsibility". What terrified the Framers of the Constitution was the specter of mob rule, of a country in which the majority is unchecked and runs rampant over anything or anyone that dares oppose it. The French Reign of Terror comes to mind as a prime example of the democratic experiment devolved into a violent dictatorship of the many.

And so the Monolith is everything that terrifies the elite about the masses. Created by a Rabbi, a young girl, and an immigrant Chinese worker, it is a force neither inherently good nor evil. Rather, it is power -- political power, military power, economic power -- in need of guidance. Like any tool, it is subject to the morality of its user, but as another saying goes, "Power corrupts". How can anyone expect a junkie to responsibly control such a monstrous force? How can anyone expect any group of people, who have been kept undereducated and alienated, to responsibly take part in the greater issues of society?
 
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Anonymous

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#21
Golems also feature in Terry Pratchett's newly released book 'Going Postal' (which is superb BTW - best 'adult' Pratchett book that I've read in years).
 

MrRING

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#22
Interesting tidbits from the link I found before:

http://www.sff.net/people/d.honigsberg/ravasman.htp
Yet even Abraham, as righteous as he was, did not study the mysteries of this work alone. A late Midrashic text written by R. Yehuda Barceloni states that Abraham, along with his teacher Shem, the son of Noah, ". . . meditated on the Sefer Yetzirah until they knew how to create a world." Both Rava and Abraham, students of the Divine creative process, were constrained by the injunction, as recorded by Barceloni: ". . . take a companion, and meditate on it together, and you will understand it." Rava studied and meditated for three years with Rabbi Zera, at the end of which they produced a calf and then immediately forgot the knowledge which they had learned. After three additional years, they managed the same feat.

Rava, however, seems to have progressed to a point at which he could utilize the concepts found in Sefer Yetzirah on his own, without help from Rabbi Zera. No less an authority than the Talmud states that "Rava created a man and sent him to R. Zera. The rabbi spoke to him but he did not answer. Then he said: 'You are from the pietists. Return to your dust.'" (B, Sanhedrin, 65b) The Talmud does not go into detail as to how Rava accomplished this feat, but Rashi states in his commentary that it was through study of Sefer Yetzirah.Note 1 This is the only instance in the Talmud which refers directly to the creation of a humanoid Golem.
and

In many cases the completion of the study of Sefer Yetzirah was marked by the ritual of creating a golem. The golem was not used for any purpose other than to demonstrate that the Sefer Yetzirah had been mastered, and the golem was de-constructed upon its completion. Rabbi Loew, the Maharal of Prague, by contrast, together with his son-in- law, R. Isaaac ha-Kohen and his disciple, Rabbi Ya'aqov Sason ha- Levi created a golem and successfully saved the Jews of Prague from blood libel. This is a rare instance of a golem being created with a specific purpose other than proof of mastery of the Sefer Yetzirah.

Golems can be created using many different methods, according to the sources. Some state that it is accomplished through combinations of letters. These combinations are called "gates," the number of gates differing according to the various Kabbalistic schools, and ranging in number from 231 to as many as 271, depending upon how the letters are to be combined.Note 4 Other schools taught that a golem was created through the utterance of the Divine Names. The Talmud records that there are 12, 42, and even 72 letter names of God which might have been used for this purpose. Note 5 Many schools, such as the Hasidim, held that the Hebrew word 'emet [truth] should be inscribed upon the forehead of the golem. Among a number of methods of de-constructing a golem, a common one was the erasure of aleph, the first letter of `emet. This leaves the word met [dead] which destroys the golem.

The use of gates and the pronunciation of the Divine names are both magic of the highest sort. Magical practices are forbidden in the Hebrew Bible, but the Talmud allows "activities like those of Rabbi Hanina and Rabbi Hoshia" (B Sanhedrin, 67B). It is because the magic involved is of a holy nature (there being nothing holier than the name of God) that the issue of purity repeatedly arises. Those who participate must be ritually clean, the robes they wear must be pure white, the clay and the water used must be pure, the room clean
 
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Anonymous

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#23
IronGiant said:
Golems also feature in Terry Pratchett's newly released book 'Going Postal' (which is superb BTW - best 'adult' Pratchett book that I've read in years).
You can also read Pratchetts 'Feet of Clay' it's entirely based around Golems. - Similarly a good read.

We've had reference to RPG's already, in the mention of Vampire Masquerade.. but in a number of different roleplaying systems the creation of a golem requires blood sacrafice and the eyes/heart need to be high quality jewels. The Golem will also follow the last command of it's creator.. even after his/her death.

I realise this is 'fiction' not myth. (if there is a difference between the two?) - However.. i have to say that Palladium Books for one.. Research their material to a shocking degree and I would ask if anyone has seen any material regarding the creation of Golems outside of 'roleplaying'..?
 

MrRING

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#24
ONYX said:
and I would ask if anyone has seen any material regarding the creation of Golems outside of 'roleplaying'..?
The link I had earlier is, from what I can tell, the true history of the Golem, unless I'm reading it wrong. I'd love to know more if anybody can find it.
 
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Anonymous

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#25
On the subject of the Golem in fiction there's a fantastic book called " The Tribe " about a jewish rabbi who creates a golem to take revenge on the nazi soldiers in a concentration camp , then recreates it to punish the gang who murder his son in New York ( I think ) years later . I can't remember the author offhand , but it has a few good scenes about constructing the Golem .
Also " Another Scandal in Bohemia " by Carole Nelson Douglas is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche set in Prague which features the Golem , haven't read this one yet but the combination of the two sounds fun !
( Just found The Tribe - it's by Bari Wood , ISBN 0450055124 )
 

glamour_dust

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#27
Golems, zombies and frankenstein?

After watching an old X-files episode I decided to do a quick google for information on golems. I found this wonderfully named site

How to Create a Golem From the Comfort of Home

Aside from "golem-ingredients" it contains the history and lore of golems, even suggesting them as the inspiration for frankenstein. I find it interesting that the idea of animating the inanimate to create human-like creatures can be found across diverse cultures. So feel free to post other golem-like stories of fact, fiction or lore to this thread. Seems like a nice topic to explore further.
 

MrRING

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#28
We've got a pretty enlightening Golem thread here:

[Emp edit: Threads merged link removed]

That's worth checking out!
 

Mighty_Emperor

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#29
Re: Golems, zombies and frankenstein?

Dana said:
After watching an old X-files episode I decided to do a quick google for information on golems. I found this wonderfully named site

How to Create a Golem From the Comfort of Home

Aside from "golem-ingredients" it contains the history and lore of golems, even suggesting them as the inspiration for frankenstein. I find it interesting that the idea of animating the inanimate to create human-like creatures can be found across diverse cultures. So feel free to post other golem-like stories of fact, fiction or lore to this thread. Seems like a nice topic to explore further.
Thanks for the info (I have merged this with the existing golem thread as it is a fascianting subject and well worh a bump ;) ). I'm unsure I agree with their idea that it is an influence on Frankenstein - see the Wikipedia entry for some of the major inspiration:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankenstein#Themes

The golem entry is also interesting:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golem

and I'd certainly lean more towards the fact that it is a very holy individual tapping into something close to the powers of Creation.

Another good page:
www.scils.rutgers.edu/~kvander/golem/ba ... golem.html
 

glamour_dust

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#30
fantastic thread. Indeed worth a bump. I've got three of the suggested books lined up for reading in the immediate future. I wonder if people truly believe in the existence of such creatures? Are they considered real or just an obscure folklore? could such a thing be possible?
 
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