The Golem of Prague 


 a collection of stories recorded by Chayim Bloch

The Golem is a story dating back to 16th century Prague. In the narrative, the Golem is created by Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague. The story first appeared in print in 1847. The idea of the Golem is heavily centered upon Kabbalah, the mystical sect of Judaism. The main source Kabbalistic information on the Golem is in the Sefer Yetzirah. The book contains speculations on God and the angels.

Rabbi Judah Loew was born in Poland and became the Rabbi of Prague in 1588. He specialized in Talmudic study and was renowned for his commentary on Rashi’s interpretations of the Talmud. He was known as the “Maharal of Prague”, an acronym which translates to “our teacher”. He pioneered new educational methods within the Jewish community, focusing on the idea that information should not be taught to minds not mature enough to handle it. This led to a revamp of the Jewish education system (one of the mainstays of the religion), including teaching the Talmud only to children who were old enough to appreciate and digest it. He wrote many books on the Talmud, the Torah, and other interpretations.The Golem story appears in print for the first time around two hundred years after his death. Rabbi Loew did not openly focus his studies on Kabbalah, but mysticism affected his other works, and he was known to be a Kabbalistic scholar.

At the time of the Golem story, the Jews of Prague were secluded within a ghetto. The story takes place around Easter, a time when Jews were being severely harassed on claims of blood-libel. Blood-libel was an anti-semitic myth widely circulated at the time. It involved the belief that Jews would kidnap and kill children in order to use their blood for Passover rituals. The Golem was charged with protecting the ghetto from the hostile attacks of the population of Prague.

The author of the version seen here, Chayim Bloch, lived in the Ukraine. He was a rabbi, philosopher, and scholar of Kabbalah. He was forced to flee the Ukraine in 1914 with the onset of the Russian revolution. He served as a chaplain in the Hungarian army during World War I and it was during this time that he wrote this version of The Golem. He founded the Jewish magazine Austrian Weekly, where he published his stories and view points. He became the rabbi of the Jewish community of Liesing in Vienna, Austria in 1923. He was captured by the Nazis and sent to a concentration camp in 1938. He survived the war and emigrated to America where he continued to publish German books.

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The Current Jewish Quarter of Prague with Klezmer music, likely the type of music listened to in the time of The Maharal and the Golem, in the backgrounf.