Prague legends – Golem

There are many legends about Prague and people who lived here. One of the most famous ones is about Golem.

It should be mentioned, that in Jewish tradition, golem is an animated being made of inanimate matter. There are few stories about different golems, but Prague one is definitely the most popular out of all of them. The story about him has many slightly different versions, but basically says that in the second half of 16th century well educated Rabbi Jehuda Ben Bezalel, also known as rabbi Loew, who lived in Prague Jewish ghetto, created a big clay figure, Golem, to protect Jews from hostile attacks. Well, this was Rabbi’s intention. He brought Golem into life by following special rituals, so Jews would have a strong protector. But soon, Golem started to be more and more violent, he was attacking innocent Christians, according to some versions of the legend also Jews and he even turned against his creator.

People were scared of Golem, so emperor asked Rabbi Loew to destroy the dangerous creature, and in return, he promised him that attacks against Jews would stop. The key how to destroy Golem was on his forehead. When Rabbi was creating him, he wrote there a world in Hebrew letters, which transcripted into Latin alphabet would be “emet”, it means life. To destroy him, he rubbed out the first letter of this word, “met” means dead in Hebrew, so all the signs of life disappeared from Golem. It is said, that his body was left in the attic of the Old Town Synagogue and could be still found there.

The story about Golem is pretty well known in the Czech Republic. Also because of the popular movie comedy from 1951, in Czech called Cisaruv pekar a pekaruv cisar (Emperor´s Baker and Baker’s Emperor) in the US this movie was released under the name The Emperor and the Golem.

And of course, Golem’s story was many times featured in literature; we could mention a Nobel Prize holder Isaac Bashewish Singer’s short novel Golem or very interesting mysterious novel of the same name by Gustav Meyring. There is even featured a ballet show in the National theatre, inspirited by Meyring´s novel.

And, Hybernia Theatre prepared a musical about Golem, the show is in Czech, but with subtitles, thought might be interesting also for foreign visitors.

Beside all those books and shows, Golems also appears in the name of few restaurants and companies, which is just another prove of his popularity.

Sep 17, 14:30 (Filed under: Other )

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