A golem is a creature formed out of a lifeless substance such as dust or earth that is brought to life by ritual incantations and sequences of Hebrew letters. The golem, brought into being by a human creator, becomes a helper, a companion, or a rescuer of an imperiled Jewish community. In many golem stories, the creature runs amok and the golem itself becomes a threat to its creator.
The best-known version of the golem legend takes place in Prague and revolves around the studious Rabbi Loew. The first practical instructions on creating a golem can be found in medieval commentaries on Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation). Originally, creating a golem was a way for medieval Jewish mystics to come closer to God.
Central to the golem legend is the human desire to create, together with a range of themes including creativity, control, power, and salvation. The golem also symbolizes each era's dreaded dangers and hopes for redemption.
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Hugo Steiner-Prag: The Golem – Prague Fantasies
Folder with illustrations for Gustav Meyrink's novel (in German)
Golem. From Mysticism to Minecraft
23 Sep 2016 to 29 Jan 2017
Golem Catalog Online
Selected texts from our catalog