Pursuing the Golem of Prague V2

Pursuing the Golem of Prague V2 - Pursuing the Golem of...

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Pursuing the Golem of Prague: Jewish Culture and the Invention of a Tradition Author(s): Hillel J. Kieval Source: Modern Judaism, Vol. 17, No. 1 (Feb., 1997), pp. 1-23 Published by: Oxford University Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 10/02/2015 20:43 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] . Oxford University Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Modern Judaism. This content downloaded from on Tue, 10 Feb 2015 20:43:32 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
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HillelJ. Kieval PURSUING THE GOLEM OF PRAGUE: JEWISH CULTURE AND THE INVENTION OF A TRADITION A text: Rava said: If the righteous wished,they could create a world,as it is written [Isaiah 59:2]: "it is your iniquities that have separated you from your God" (i.e., made a distinction between you and God). Rava cre- ated a man and sent him to Rabbi Zera. Rabbi Zera spoke to him but he [the man] did not answer. Then he [Rabbi Zera] said to him: You are from the companions (i.e., a creaturecreated by the rabbis). Re- turn to your dust.Rabbi Hanina and Rabbi Oshaia spent every Sabbath eve studying the Book of Creation (Sefer Yezirah); a third-grown calf was createdfor them, and they ate it. -Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin65B An observation: Prague's oldest existing synagogue, the 13th-century Altneuschul (Star- onovai Synagoga) practices an idiosyncratic-and apparently unique- liturgy during Friday evening services. Psalms 92 (The psalm for the Sabbath day) and 93 are said in their entirety and then repeated before the cantor issues the formal call to prayer (Barekhu). A text: During the reign of Rudolph II there lived among the Jews of Prague a man named Bezalel L6w, who, because of his tall stature and great learning, was called "der hohe" [the Great] Rabbi L6w. This rabbi was well versed in all of the artsand sciences, especially in the Kabbalah. By means of this arthe could bring to life figures formed out of clay or carved from wood, who, like real men, would perform whatever task was asked of them. Such homemade servants are very valuable: they do not eat; they do not drink;and they do not require any wages. They work untiringly; one can scold them, and they do not answer back. Rabbi L6w had fashioned for himself one such servant out of clay, placed in his mouth the Name (a magicformula), and thereby brought him to life. This artificial servant performed all of the menial tasks in the house throughout the week: chopping wood, carrying water, etc.
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