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GOLEM
by
Terence E. Jackson aka TEJ

The word golem is used in the Bible to refer to an embryonic or incomplete substance: Psalm 139:16 uses the word "gal'mi", meaning "my unshaped form" (in Hebrew, root words are defined by sequences of consonants, ie. glm). The Mishnah uses the term for an uncultivated person ("Ten characteristics are in a learned person, and ten in an uncultivated one", Pirkei Avoth 5:7). Similarly, Golems are used today primarily in metaphor either as brainless lunks or as entities serving man under controlled conditions but enemies in others.

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The earliest stories of golems date to early Judaism. Adam is described in the Talmud (Tractate Sanhedrin 38b) as initially created as a golem when his dust was "kneaded into a shapeless hunk". Like Adam (whose name literally means "red [clay],") all golems are created from mud. They were a creation of those who were very holy and close to God. A very holy person was one who strove to approach God, and in that pursuit would gain some of God's wisdom and power. One of these powers was the creation of life. No matter how holy a person became, however, the being they created would be but a shadow of one created by God.

Early on, the notion developed that the main disability of the golem was its inability to speak. In Sanhedrin 65b, it describes how Raba created a golem using the Sefer Yetzirah. He sent the golem to Rav Zeira. Rav Zeira spoke to the golem, but he did not answer. Said Rav Zeira, "I see that you were created by one of our colleagues; return to your dust."

8 x 10, Ink and Watercolor on Vellum Paper - Signed. Date: 2006



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