In Jewish folklore, the Golem is an artificial figure made to represent a human being and endowed with life through the magical means of using holy words. Several medieval traditions posit that this entity come into being when the word Emet, meaning Truth or Life, is inscribed on its forehead.
Probably the most seminal influence on the ideas behind the creation of the Golem is the Sefer Yezirah, a short work of text that served as an ancient cosmological treatise. While its contents held nothing that discussed per se the creation of an artificial being like the Golem, certain aspects were extracted from the text which informed the various techniques that developed for the creation of a Golem. One was the text's account of the theory of combinations of letters. The account of the theory entails the story of the creation of twenty-two letters by God. All possible permutations of those letters manifest themselves in the formation of the universe. Among those permutations lies the potential to create life.
One of the most famous legends relating to the Golem involved the Rabbi Yehudah Loew. As the Maharal, an expert in the Kabbalah, the considerable lore of Jewish mystical tradition, literature, and thought, he had the ability to create the Golem. The small Jewish community of Prague in the 16th century suffered intolerance and persecution at the hands of Bishop Thadeusz, a convert from Judaism. The Bishop used all means at his disposal cause them great harm, sending his subjects to spy on them, slander them, and even resort to violence against them. In response to the Bishop's ongoing campaign against the Jews, Rabbi Loew created the Golem in an attempt to redress the numerous wrongs perpetrated by the Bishop. The Golem had exceptional strength but was silent in both speech and movement. Guided by the Rabbi's intelligence and understanding, the Golem proved to be a powerful force for making matters right for the Jewish community. To bring in a familiar idiomatic expression--Rabbi Loew had the brains; the Golem had the brawn.
As the troubles against the Jewish community waned, the Rabbi found less and less crucial tasks for the Golem to perform in the way of servicing the community. He still had the Golem run minor errands and chores, but one day a brief lapse of judgment on the Rabbi's part proved to be a fatal error. He asked the creature to fetch water for the house from a nearby well. Loew retired to his room to sleep, but when next he woke, he found the house filled with water. The Golem, as per his instructions, had dutifully continued to bring water into the house. For some reason, the Rabbi was unable to command the Golem to stop, so he had to trick Golem into leaning close enough so that he could remove the necessary letter from the Golem's forehead. This action transformed the Golem into the mass of inanimate clay from which it originally came. Unfortunately, the heavy mass of the now lifeless Golem toppled over the Rabbi, effectively crushing him to death.
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