Mention the word ‘golem’ and most folks think of the creepy little critter in The Lord of the Rings, but the mythological creature is actually, to me at least, much more terrifying to consider.
The most famous golem in mythology is the Golem of Prague. This creature was created by Rabbi Loeb around 1580 when the Jews were threatened. This site provides one version of the ritual that brought the creatures to life, but I know there are others. There are also several versions of the story, and some alternate stories can be found here.
A number of years ago, we won’t say how many, I was doing research into the golem and came across one of the rituals. I wish I could remember where I found it, but it basically stated that the golem had to be created out of soil that had never known human touch. There was a period of purification that came before the creation, and the incantation for the ritual took about thirty hours. If even one mistake was made in the incantation, then it had to be begun again, which could extend the time needed to create the golem. Now, this isn’t something I’d have the time to undertake, no matter how nice it would be to have a creature that obeyed commands.
Golems do not have the ability to think for themselves. All they can do is follow the commands of their creators. This being the case, the creator has to be extremely specific with instructions, for the golem won’t infer from anything said. It will follow instructions literally.
The book Sefer Yezirah supposedly contains the instructions for creating the golem, but the instructions have to be interpreted, and each Rabbi who has decided to make a golem has interpreted it differently.
Golems are said to be great creatures for manual labor and defense. However, over time they become unstable and will rampage and possibly harm others. For this reason, it is important that golems only remain active for a short period of time for a specific purpose before being deactivated.