The Golem

Long before the sixteenth century there were a great number of Jews who lived in Germany. They were known as the Ashkenazi Jews. They were the original descendants of the medieval Jewish communities who lived along the Rhine in Germany. This region was known as Ashkenazi which gave them their name. This Jews were very religious people and they adhered strictly to the rules and regulations that were laid down by their religion. This fact did not go down well with there neighbors and from time to time it brought about conflicts between them. This neighbors who were non Jews were referred to as gentiles. These conflicts spread over a long period of time to as recently as the twentieth century. Most of the conflicts that were between the Jews and the gentiles are found in many of the folk tales of the Jewish culture. Some of them show how through religious interventions they were able to solve such such tale is that of the Golem. But one important fact they pass across is that the medieval Ashkenazi was a time of great suffering and great scholars.

  The tale of the golem is set at a ghetto called Prague in the sixteenth century. This is during the period when Jews were under attack from the gentiles. This was caused by deep hatred between them. The cause of this hatred was a blood feud that was actually based on false accusations. Gentiles claimed that the Jews were killing their children and using their blood as an ingredient when making the Passover bread. To substantiate these claims they would dump the bodies of dead gentile children in the streets they lived in. Despite this, not all gentiles were bad or against the Jews. Some like the police and the judges   helped keep order and prosecute those who wronged the Jews. Around this time the Jews were lead by a rabbi called Maharal. This rabbi seeing the persecutions that the Jews were constantly facing decided to seek divine intervention to solve this problem. He was given a skill through a dream of creating a creature that would help solve this problem. This creature was known as a golem. (Leviant)

The word golem is a Hebrew word which means raw material. It signifies imperfection or incompleteness. The golem according to the tale was created mainly from four elements namely water, air, earth and fire. A human like clay figure is made and hardened by fire. The figure was then brought to life through the use of mystical powers by performance of a religious ritual. The golem is outwardly human but it lacks a personality, intellect and the ability of speech. His main purpose is to obey his master and perform all the duties accorded to him without any form of denial. He carries out both small and great menial tasks. His master or creator can also take his life by reversing the ritual he performed earlier whenever he wishes to or upon completion of its tasks. This fate of the golem was kept secret from other Jews in order to prevent those with wicked intentions from ending his life. (Leviant)

The golem that the rabbi created was of great help and it ended up resolving most of the conflicts between the Jews and the gentiles. Bringing the golem which was a clay figure to life was a mystical process. This is part of the teachings of the Jewish religion known as Jewish mysticism or kabbalah. The kabbalah is a strong belief in use of spiritual and mystical powers. The Jewish spiritual book the Torah has many stories that contain mystical experiences such as the visions and prophetic dreams. The aspect of mysticism is very important to Judaism and its teachings. The use of mystical and supernatural powers is the most important part in n the process creating the golem because without life it would not perform the functions it is supposed to. (Judaism 101; kabbalah and jewish mysticism)

The rabbi Maharal was a great scholar. He had studied religion to a great extent and through the knowledge that he gained he was also able to use the golem not only to prevent the Jews from conflicts with the gentiles, but also to solve the problems among the Jews themselves. This showed the great wisdom that he possessed in himself. Many of the rabbis during that period were religious scholars. (Leviant)

Though there is not prove of occurrence of this tale, the persecutions that the Jews of Eastern Europe underwent were real. These attacks continued through to the twentieth century, though not due to the issues of the blood feud. Some have been so severe that it has led to loss of many lives. As such tales like this of the golem kept on being told to give hope to   Jews. Letting them know that their problems will be solved through divine intervention and the wisdom of their leaders. Similarly many of the Jews leaders were true scholars of their religion which is an important leadership quality.

The medieval Ashkenazi was truly a time of great suffering for the Jews. Through this period they were continuously persecuted by the gentiles. Many false accusations where heaped upon them. They could only rely on their religion and there leaders to give them hope of a better future.. Gentiles like the police and judges helped by assisting their rabbis. The rabbis were well educated in there religious studies and thus they helped to maintain order among their own people. There suffering continued over a period of time till the twentieth century. But with time peace has been achieved in that region and every one is recognized and treated humanely.

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