How to Make a Golem

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Mystics are rumored to be able to perform unusual feats that go beyond the laws of physics, through the knowledge of Kabbalah. One such feat is to make a being out of earth that can walk, act, and look just like a human. A created being like this is called a golem, and has been the subject of much conjecture.

The Talmud documents a case when a sage named Rava made one of these creatures and sent it to his colleague Rav Zeira, who thought it was an unusual human. When he saw that the person in front of him couldn’t speak, he realized it had been created. [1]

The sages say Rava found the knowledge how to create in a work attributed to the Patriarch Abraham, called The Book of Creation or Sefer Yitzirah. This cryptic work includes mystical formulas that God made as the spiritual building blocks of creation. To use this information to create, a mystic will meditate on different combinations of Hebrew letters. One who understands how to combine letters can create almost anything they want.

Aside from the letter combinations, you need unplowed dirt, pure water, and to wear white clothes to perform the ritual. There is one most important condition, though, to have this ability to create at will. A Rabbi Leowe[2] who lived in Prague a few hundred years ago explained that Rava purified himself of all transgression. The implication from the Talmudic passage is that only a righteous person will be given the gift of this ability. If you are pure and free of sin, you can have many special, mystical powers open up for you, including the ability to create.

A famous legend has been told many times of Rabbi Leowe himself having made a golem to protect the Jews of Prague from anti-Semitic attacks. Books, tapes, and even movies have been made depicting this mysterious event. This legend has led some to believe that when Jews are in danger all we need to do is make a golem to protect us. A glance at Jewish history shows that we did not create a golem every time we were in danger. This is not the response to danger that the Torah teaches. If there is danger to the Jews, it is not random. It’s clear from the Torah, the Prophets, and the Talmud, that danger to the Jews is a message from the Al-mighty that we need to work on spiritual growth. It is a decree from God. We need to be practical and take necessary physical precautions from danger. We may need to fight back. We may need to seek government assistance. No matter what is deemed to be the practical response to danger, we also need to introspect to see what spiritual blemish we may have, and we need to pray. Even if your next-door neighbor knows how to make a golem, that doesn’t mean God wants him to make one now.

The Code of Jewish Law warns against manipulation of the forces of nature. Black Magic is a transgression of the Torah. But if one has proper intentions, and uses the Book of Creation, what one does may not be considered Black Magic; it is referred to as “Practical Kabbalah.” I assume that those who know “how” also know the rules of “when.” Incidentally, another mention of a golem in Jewish Law appears in the laws dealing with a prayer service that requires ten men.[3] Rabbis discuss the question of a case where only nine are present, can a golem be counted as a tenth. (He can’t)

What the Code of Jewish Law does not tell you is the spiritual side of the issue of golem-making. How do you become righteous enough to have this ability? It’s quite possible that one incredibly pure act of serving God can lead a person on a path to holiness.[4] If that’s the case, then the potential is open to anyone to able to reach the level of holiness required to have special abilities. Another view is that Abraham spent so much time and intensity of thought trying to understand God and His creation, that the keys to the spiritual realm were opened up to him.[5] Although now that Abraham taught us these keys in his Book of Creation, the implication is that one would have to have a similar depth of devotion to connect strongly enough to God to have the ability to create life.

We are taught that this devotion must come from a deep and strong desire to be one with God. And the physical realm must be looked as a vehicle to connect to God, not as a distraction from spirituality. With this desire, the Almighty will, as the sages say, lead you in the path of your desire.[6]

And then the keys to the universe will be in your hand.