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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

Term: golem

DEFINITIONS

Golem: In Jewish folklore, a mute being composed of inanimate materials. In the Jewish creation myth, Adam is a type of golem, and is described as such in the Talmud. The story most associated with the golem involves the 16th century Rabbi Lowe of Prague who uses magic to create a creature in order to protect the Jews of the city. But the creature becomes wilder and Lowe agrees to destroy it. On the golems forehead is the Hebrew word “emet” that means “truth.” The Rabbi rubs out the first letter leaving the word “met” which means “death.” Over the years, variations of the story have appeared. For example, some versions feature the golem having powers such a being able to summon spirits, invisibility, and even a touch that burns. Some people believe it is the source for the idea of the monster in Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein.


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