Speaking God’s Name

There are various legends of the Golem, the creature of clay who is brought to life by a wonder-working rabbi. The most famous involves that of Rabbi Judah Loew, the famed Maharal of Prague.

In these legends, it is God’s name that animates the creature. In the case of the Maharal, the Golem is finally destroyed because God’s name is pulled from his mouth. In the legend of Rabbi Elijah of Chelm, the name of God was on its forehead, and once removed, it “turned to nothing and returned to earth.”

The Golem was the fantastically powerful hero of a powerless people, but the way it came to life also teaches us something about the Jewish sense of destiny. So long as God’s name is in our mouths, is on our foreheads (reminiscent of the tefillin), we sustain ourselves. Should the day come that we no longer spoke God’s name, we would return to dust.

There is deep wisdom in folktales. The Jewish people always understood itself to have a mission in this world, and that was why God brought us into being. May God’s name never leave our mouths.

About the Author
Named the most influential Rabbi in America by Newsweek Magazine and one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by the Jerusalem Post, David Wolpe is the Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California.
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