The Legend of Golem

Golem is clearly one of the most famous “personalities”, who walked through the Prague streets. Nevertheless, his fame is just about the only thing that is clear about him. The quotation marks show that even his existence is disputed and quite frankly it is also seriously doubted. Still, Golem does truly belong to Prague. After all, isn’t the mysticism one of Prague’s lovely features?

Do you like legends…?

There are countless legends about Golem and the most famous one goes something like this:

Rabbi Löw’s magical powers enabled him to combine the four elements (fire and water represented by his assistants), air (Rabbi himself) and earth (Golem made out of earthenware) to vitalize a lifeless sculpture made out of mud.

Track of the past Why would he do it? Well, even though this was the time of the enlightened emperor Rudolph II, the Jews had to be protected from Anti-Semitic attacks and Golem (named Joseph) had the necessary powers to carry out the task. To be an even better protector his master could give him a special necklace. It was made out of deer skin and was decorated with mystic signs. With this ornament Golem became invisible. Because he was a hard-working chap, he also managed to help out in Rabbi’s household and in the synagogue.

You will probably hear that Golem was huge, shapeless and only vaguely reminiscent of any human being. This is thanks to his appearance in famous Czech film about Rudolph II. Nevertheless, according to this legend Joseph was at first sight undistinguishable from an ordinary human beings. The only thing he lacked was the ability to speak. Actually, there was also another thing. Golem “lived” only with clay tablet inserted into his mouth (according to the movie-makers into his forehead). It had to be taken out on Saturday because of Jewish holy day Sabbeth.

How did it all end?

Did then Golem succeed in carrying out the given task? Yes, he did but there is also a dark side to this legend. The being grew stronger and stronger. Instead of heroic and helpful deeds Golem was becoming increasingly uncontrollable and even destructive.

Old New Synagogue
One day people found him uprooting trees and destroying Rabbi’s home when he was in the synagogue singing psalm number ninety-two. Rabbi rushed to take out the tablet. This was the end of Golem – he was never re-vitalized. Afterwards Rabbi continued with the psalm and because of the interruption Prague’s Old-New Synagogue is the only place in the whole world where this psalm is sung twice.

The mystery continues

You are probably asking yourself, where Golem (at this stage actually only a statue) ended up. Well, people believed Rabbi hid him in the attic of his synagogue. The entrance into the area was forbidden for hundreds of years and to make sure the ban would not be broken the stairs to the attic were removed. When the Old-New Synagogue was finally explored, no Golem was found and the legend thus remains interwoven with mystery to the present days.

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