Look, there’s a Golem!
A look at the golem in Yiddish and
Hallmarks that you’ve got a Golem
• First mentioned in the Talmud, it’s the first
story of creation by God of man. All golems
must be made of clay, and anyone who
created a golem was considered wise and
• All golem’s are created with use of magic (or
divine inspiration, depending on the writer).
I.L Peretz “The Golem”
• Golem made in response to crimes committed
against the Jewish population.
• Consider the morality: the golem is ordered to
kill in defence of the Jewish people.
• The golem is given no literary dialogue,
perhaps because golems were not known to
The Golem of Prague (1920)
Folktales “The Golem of Vilna”
• Not 100% golem: look, he’s got sand in him!
• Activated not by a spoken Name, but by a scroll put in
• Multiple powers: can talk to fish, leap buildings, change
his appearance and fly.
• Primary function seem to be to catch fish and perform
tasks on the Sabbath (because being non-human,
didn’t have to do all the tedious tasks).
• Had a sideline job as a bouncer for the Jewish
population. “When the governor heard about him...ah
Lord, Lord...the golem, I mean the Gaon, sent the
golem to slap the governor around a bit.” (pp.341)
Yudl Rosenberg “The Golem and the
wondrous deeds of the Maharal of
• Supernatural elements: divine inspiration
through dream to create the golem.
• Human beings as mystical agents of the
elements, learned men.
• Obedient without being intelligent.
• Reference to Blood Libel (false allegation of
human sacrifice, usually aimed at the Jewish
“Random ‘Ember Golem’ from Dudgeon's and dragon
Things to consider in popular culture
Questions to consider
• Is the Golem a ‘man playing god’ story?
• Consider the morality: Golems committing
crimes on behalf of a people or defending a
• Active endorsement of magic and sorcery?
• Is the golem ‘human’?