Recently I found out that a book I co-created with Israeli artist Uri Fink, "The Golem: the History of an Israeli Comic Strip," is being used as propaganda against Israel, against Zionism, and against Jews in general.
Michael Collins Piper
William A. Cook
Several anti-Israeli or anti-Semitic writers such as Michael Collins Piper in his book ”The Golem: Israel's Nuclear Hell Bomb and the Road to Global Armageddon” and (using his book as truth,) Texe Marrs in “The Golem is at Hand,” and William A. Cook in "Nation of Golems," used without permission pictures from that book which were drawn by Uri Fink, to prove their thesis about the evil of Jews and Israelis.
These men probably weren’t aware, though I doubt that they would have cared even if they knew, that this book was a parody describing a comic books series and a Golem that never existed exept in the creators’ imagination.
Thus, the figure of the golem, that legendary artificial monster, is presentednow in some quarters as a symbol of Israeli-Jewish evil and a threat to the world.
The reason is clear: the story of the Golem has become very popular in recent years and become a major part of today popular culture' in literature 'in cinema and in comics and so is useful for creators of myths of hate: exactly those things the Golem was created to oppose as a kind of a new blood libel story.
Unfortunately, those hate mongers have to invent false "facts" and by this they demonstrate that if they lie about such a well known story and figure then they will lie about anything as well. Sometimes their lies stem from simple ignorance – they simply don’t know better, while other times the lies result from pure hate.
Let us examine the false facts that the hate mongers claim about the Golem.
Piper’s book claims that “The Golem in Jewish lore and legend is a monster; a beastly Frankenstein conjured up by the black magic of sorcerous, Talmudic rabbis. Once formed, he goes forth to kill and destroy all perceived enemies of Israel..
Not one word of all of this is true.
Please notice that to every thing I say I bring my sources which are presented) below which mean that you can check them for yourself. )
It is true that the Golem is an artificial being created by a rabbi,
?but is he a monster, a beastly Frankenstein
Not at all.
(By the way, in the original book, Frankenstein was a scientist and not the monster at all, but never mind, it is just one more mistake out of many.) The Golem is always in the Jewish stories, and what is far more important, in the rabbis’ discussions about the Golem, a human being (most often male, and sometimes a female being) and not at all a monster. Like all technology, He can be destructive if not properly tended to, and like fire, can be good and helpful but can also be bad and harmful. 2
pictures from the German GOLEM movie from 1920. Director Paul Wegner .
Is the golem a creation of the black magic of sorcerous, Talmudic rabbis?
Let us see how "black magic” is defined in Wikipedia
Usually it refers to "(a) type of magic is invoked when wishing to kill, steal, injure, cause misfortune or destruction, or for personal gain without regard to harmful consequences". Usually it is done with the help of some evil or unpleasant powers. .
If you will look at the jewish stories of the Golem, those of the Maharal of Prague and other, you will see that the Golem is always created in order to help the housework or for defence and protection, as a guard to the whole community, never to in order to attack without provocation.
Of course the Golem is created with the name of God himself, so by definition and logic the Golem creation is not an act of black magic, unless of course you consider works to defend and protect the community an act of black magic.
Is the Golem a soulless being?
The reply is that the Golem can be a soulless and unintelligent being or child like as he is in the original Golem and Mahral story, but a Golem can also be, according to various rabbis’ discussions, potentially intelligent and endowed with a soul. And because of that, Rabbis such as Rabbi Gershon Hanoch Leiner, known as the Radzyner Rebbe, had stated in their discussions that the Golem is definitely a "person " and to "kill” a Golem for a not very good reason (such as a self defence) is a crime just like killing a woman born human. There was even discussion if a Golem can pray in synagogue and be consider part of a Minyan (the community of praying Jews.)
A good presentation of the way the Golem is considered in the original Jewish sources can be found in the famous science fiction stories of Jewish writer Isaac Asimov. He knew very well the Jewish Golem stories and created in response to them a whole series of stories about robots that help humanity via three laws, which guide them and forbid them to harm peoples. Still, they are feared by many humans and in fact can be sometimes dangerous. But generally they are helpful, like the Jewish Golems and like technology in general.
Data the Android is the closest thing in the media to the real Jewish Golem
The closest representation in the media to what a Golem really is in the Jewish sources is not to be found in the Golem movies, the most famous of which were created by Christians with Nazi connections.
But in the character of the Android Data in the series "Star Trek: the Next Generation."
Data is an artificial being which is learning in the course of the series how to love and develops feelings, and that is exactly the way that the Jewish sages, such as Rabbi Gershon Hanoch Leiner, had seen the potential of the Golem.
The Golem and an Arian girl in the movie of the Nazi director Paul wegner .
So why in novels and movies and in the rantings of Michael Collins Piper and Texe Marrs and their friends The Golem is presented as a soulless monster?
This is because there is indeed a conception of the Golem as exactly such a being and indeed it inspired the concept of the soulless creature created by Frankenstein (in Mary Shelley’s book.)
This conception however is not Jewish at all and has no connection to Judaism. It is closely connected to Christian thinking and culture, which however is indeed Jewish in origin as Christianity had originally been a Jewish sect.
In various Christian Theologies in contrast to Judaism it is inconceivable that artificial beings created by humans could develop and have a soul, as this is considered the prerogative of God only.
And so it was seen by various German Christian writers and latter by movie directors, who had developed the idea of the Golem as a soulless monster.
Achim von Arnim the inventor of the Golem as a (female) soulless monster,
The inventor of the concept of the Golem as an evil soulless being was a German, not a Jewish, writer called Achim von Arnim in his work “Isabella Agypten “(Isabella of Egypt)In 1812. In this story Arnim presented for the first time a concept which was unknown to the Jews, of a soulless and murderous Golem created by a Jew.
This Golem by the way is a female one, so in this story Arnim had shown his hatred toward both Jews and females.
It should come as no surprise that Von Arnim was one of the creators of the anti- Semitic movement in Germany, which was ultimately responsible for the Holocaust, and the murder of millions of people, which the murderers, like their progenitor von Arnim, considered as evil soulless beings.
Many other Christian writers in Germany had written works about the Golem after von Arnim and usually in similar ways, as a destructive soulless monster "like the Jews”.
Most famous of these are the German Golem movies of Paul Wegner that were created in the 1920s. In them the Golem is indeed a work of black magic.
( probably this is the source of Piper and Mars misconception about the subject )
Not surprisingly, Wegner was one of the most influential actors and directors in Nazi Germany.
Is it true that when the Golem was created he goes forth to kill and destroy all perceived enemies of Israel?
This is untrue and is an invention of the writers who were inspired by the Golem movies they might have seen or read about.
However it simply has no relation to the real Jewish Golem stories about which these writers know nothing and probably also do not wish to know and do not care even if they had known the true facts.
It is true that as recently as 2011 there appeared a book called man made monsters by a "Dr." (?) Bob Curan in which it is alleged that in the Middle Ages Christians had feared attacks by Jewish Golems.
This is a good scary story but it quite clear that "Dr" Curan had either simply invented it or perhaps found it somewhere on the web.
No such thing had ever appeared before in print.
Of course this is a good story and the fact that this is a simple recent invention will not dissuade anyone from using it. Piper and Mars will probably use it with screams of delight; but at least we know who is the inventor of this new myth and when it was first printed- in 2011.
The truth it that neither Christians nor Muslims are so much as mentioned in any Jewish story or discussion of the Golem till the year 1909.
Before that date, the Golem is considered a strictly Jewish subject whose help and also the misfortune he can bring are relevant only to Jews.
And as far that we know no Christian had mentioned the Golem stories before the 17th century and then as some Jewish superstition, as something to laugh at and not to fear.
An example of christian fiction about the Golem.
In works by Christian writers such as those as we mentioned above the Golem is indeed shown sometime as destructive to Christians, but Jews had nothing to do with those works.
One almost never found any such concept among Jewish writers, who had never seen the Golem as a destructive and soulless monster, and not even as an avenger.
The Golem is strictly a protector.
In 1909 appeared the most famous and influential of the Golem books, The work of Rabbi Yehuda Yudel Rosenberg, “The Golem and the Wondrous Deeds of the Maharal of Prague” in which the Golem had worked against Christian hate mongers who are spreading blood libel stories about Jews.
In these stories the Golem is acting not as a destroying monster or as an avenger but is a kind of detective who finds evidence to crimes committed by hate mongers who are murdering children and blaming Jews for a "conspiracy"
. The Golem brings those criminals to (Christian) justice.
You will find very different stories about the Golem in which he is a monster but when you check you will always find that the creator of the story is not a Jew.
This is because to Jews the Golem is not by nature a monster, nor is it evil or soulless and destructive, but is used strictly to help and to defend. In those Jewish stories the Golem is sometimes childlike, and sometimes so complex that he learns to love women.
So this is the truth about the Golem: it is not and never has been, in Jewish sources, a monster but is always a helper.
And he definitely has the potential to be as good as a human and perhaps even better, and Judaism definitely does not reject this possibility.
And as a good Jew called Jesus, son of Joseph and Mary, once said:
And now when you know the truth it will, finally , make you free.."
, Yehuda Yudel Rosenberg, The Golem and the wondrous deeds of the Maharal of Prague / New Haven, Conn. : Yale University Press, c2007.
Gershom Scholem, "The Idea of the Golem," in On the Kabbalah and its Symbolism pp. 158–204 (
New York, 1965);
, Arnold L Goldsmith The golem remembered, 1909-1980 : variations of a Jewish legend / Detroit : Wayne State University Press, 1981.
Byron L. Sherwin The Golem legend : origins and implications / Lanham : University Press of America, 1985
1. Moshe Idel. Golem: Jewish Magical and Mystical Traditions on the . Anthropoid. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990
Byron L., Sherwin, GOLEms among us : how a Jewish legend can help us navigate the biotech century / Chicago : Ivan R. Dee, 2004.
Monsters in Jewish Tradition (Or, The Moral Dilemmas of Cloning)
And see also
Thanks to Dr.Alon Raab for his help.