Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Frankenstein Mythology Part II

Frankenstein's monster has its roots in mythology, Jewish mythology, that is.  The monster is a flesh golem.  Making the golem out of flesh is a new twist to this old myth.

The word "golem" refers to an unshaped form.  It can also be used as an insult to mean a person who is lacking culture and refinement.  It is also a Yiddish insult to mean a clumsy person.

In Jewish lore, all golem are humanoid forms created from mud and then given life (like the original Adam).  Only a person who is tremendously holy can attempt to create life in this way and thus share in God's experience.  However, even the holiest of people are unable to make the creature speak.

Of course, the inability to speak is not always bad if you just want a servant to do your bidding and not back talk you.  Ask any parent who has asked their child to clean their room only to have smart mouth comments directed back to them (not my kids of course...).  Quiet can be bliss.
Not only do you have a killer cool do-it-yourself servant, but if you have a golem you also get a reputation boost since it shows how wise and holy you are.

Want to make one yourself?  The internet has all you need to know.  I found these instructions on eHow, but you can find it in over a million other sites.

First, obtain a large quantity of soil or clay.  Some sites are more specific as to the type of clay that you get.

Second, knead the clay into a figure resembling a man. Leave the figure imperfect, because only God can make things perfectly.  This would not be a problem for me.

Third, impart the name of God onto the golem in one of several ways: Walk or dance around it saying letters from the Jewish alphabet that form the secret name of God, engrave the Hebrew letters for the word "truth" on its forehead or attach a parchment with God's name onto the golem's arm or mouth.  This is the hard part.  Finding God's name is not as easy as it sounds.  However, there is an out.  The Hebrew word for truth is Emet.  This is an added bonus that makes it better than using the name of God since you can just erase the E and it deactivates the golem.  Anyone else here so nerdy that when they hear the word "deactivate" that they also hear C3P0's voice in your head saying, "Please don't deactivate me!"?

Fourth, instruct the golem to perform a desired task. Give orders carefully, because golems will interpret orders given to them literally.

Some helpful things you should know.  Golems are strong and they get bigger the longer you have them activated.  If you did not chose to have the easy Emet path to life, you'll need to do everything backwards to turn them off.  One guy didn't (Rabbi Eliyahu of Chelm), and his golem grew so big that it fell over and crushed him.

Rabbi Loew made one to help protect his ghetto.  The problem is that the golem took his job so seriously and intensely that it started a massive killing spree (however, its victims were NOT the people in the ghetto he was supposed to protect).  Just be careful out there guys.

Now, just in case you were wondering, Gollum, from Lord of the Rings, does not get his name from golem.


This post brought to you by Colby's Amazing Cub Scout Popcorn. After going to this link, you'll need to choose a scout to support.  Type in Colby A.  He's the Colby A. with only Mark listed as a parent. 

1 comment:

Dani Harper, Author said...

This was fascinating. I didn't know anything about golems and now I'm tempted to make one (after years of having more luck training the dogs to do laundry than my kids...)