The message of the Golem

It is possible that the legend of the Golem which is told in the Talmud, in many books, and even several films has a disturbing message. Let’s take a look at the recent 2019 film version. 

The meaning of Golam

The word Golem means an amorphous incompletely formed creation, usually thought to be made from clay or mud. The term is found only once in the Bible, in Psalm 139:16 where it refers to an incomplete substance.

In its most widely-known Jewish legend, a Golem was created in the form of a man by Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague, who was known as Maharal, who died in 1609. He used the powers of Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism. The golem came alive when the rabbi placed God’s name on a parchment and inserted it into the golem’s mouth. Rabbi Lowe lived in a Jewish ghetto that was constantly threatened by non-Jewish anti-Semitic fanatics who mistreated and all-to-often killed them. He made the golem to protect the Jews

The 2019 film

The film takes place in 1673, years after the death of Maharal. These Jews also live in a ghetto surrounded by non-Jews who despise them. The non-Jews are infected by a plague, but the Jews, living apart from them, are not. A father surrounded by non-Jews carries his dying daughter to the ghetto saying that if she dies we will burn down your village and kill everyone. A female Jewish healer says she will try to save the child. The father swears again that if she dies, so too do the Jews.

A Jewish woman in the ghetto, Hannah, who lost her son Joseph tries to persuade the small Jewish community to fight. But assured that they will fail, they refuse. She uses Kabbalah, makes a human form out of mud, and places God’s name in its mouth. A golem in the form of a young boy is produced. She calls him Joseph after her dead son.

Result

Hannah created the golem to protect the Jewish community. It did so, but it could not be controlled. A woman tried to entice Hannah’s husband and the golem killed her. Hannah showed love to her husband and the golem jealously hurt her. The female Jewish healer tried to kill the golem because she saw the danger, but the golem killed her. The golem did what he felt was right.

Question

Does the woman who created the golem symbolize God? Is the legend telling us that we humans are uncontrollable golems?

About the Author
Dr. Israel Drazin served for 31 years in the US military and attained the rank of brigadier general. He is an attorney and a rabbi, with master’s degrees in both psychology and Hebrew literature and a PhD in Judaic studies. As a lawyer, he developed the legal strategy that saved the military chaplaincy when its constitutionality was attacked in court, and he received the Legion of Merit for his service. Dr. Drazin is the author of more than 50 books on the Bible, philosophy, and other subjects.
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