According to the Talmud (sanhedrin 65b), the Rabbis of the Talmud used the system of the sefer yetzira to miraculously create a calf every friday and eat it on the Sabbath.

Rabbi Avraham Azoulai writes that the Biblical patriarch Abraham used the same method to create the calf prepared for the three angels who foretold Sarah's pregnancy in the Biblical account at Genesis 18:7 (Chesed L'Avraham Mein Chamishi) So according to him, it is literal.

Is the recipe for this procedure documented anywhere? couldnt see it in the sefer yetzira

  • 2
    It should be noted that we have no way of knowing whether the hilkhot Yetsirah mentioned in the Talmud, refers to the same piece known today as Sefer Yetsirah. || It should also be noted that the Talmud says nothing about "the system of the SY".
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 1:40
  • @mevaqesh is our version older than the talmud? if yes, no reason to assume it is a different book
    – ray
    Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 18:30
  • It is extremely inadvisable to attempt this - see Shach Y.D. 179:18.
    – Jay
    Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 20:44
  • @Jay Also see he.wikisource.org/wiki/…
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 2:22
  • 1
    Correction on the earlier estimate. "The historical origin of the Sefer Yetzirah was placed by Reitzenstein (Poimandres, p. 291) in the 2nd century BCE." So according to some, it is way older than the Talmud.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 4:08

4 Answers 4


It is documented in the R' Aryeh Kaplan translation of the sefer yetzeira regarding forming a humanoid from earth/clay (Golem) and engraving the name of God on his forehead then there are specific phrases to be said at specific intervals etc.

In On the Kabbalah and Its Symbolism by Gershom Scholem there is a chapter dedicated to the topic of Golem. Starting on page 184 he cites 4 sources for the procedure including an incomplete set of instructions found in Emek HaMelech (1648) 10c-d, Eleazar of Worms Sefer HaShem ms Munich 81 Fol. 127b, Pseudo-Sadya Gaon commentary to Sefer Yetzeira (II,4) and Avraham Abulafia, Ner Elokim. I will cite the quote from Pseudo-Sadya Gaon on p.186

They make a circle around the creatures and walk around the circle and recite the 21 alphabets, as they are noted [the author seems to have in mind such tables as we actually find in Eleazar of Worms], and some say that the Creator put power into the letters, so that a man makes a creature from virgin earth and kneads it and buries it in the ground, draws a circle and a sphere around the creature, and each time he goes around it recites one of the alphabets. This he should do 442 [in another reading 462] times. If he walks forward, the creature rises up alive, by virtue of the power inherent in the recitation of the letters. But if he wishes to destroy what he has mad, he goes around backward, reciting the same alphabets from the end to the beginning. Then the creature sinks into the ground of itself and dies. And so it happened to R.I.B.E. [probably Rabbi Ishmael ben Elisha] with his students who busied themselves with the Book of Yetzeira and by mistake went around backwards, until they themselves by the power of the letters sank into the earth up to their navels. They were unable to escape and cried out. Their teacher heard them and said: Recite the letters of the alphabet forwards and walk forward instead of going backward as you have been doing. They did so and were released.

On practical kabbalah I would also suggest perusing this site http://kabbalahselfcreation.blogspot.com/

  • Is the golem a calf? Can you eat the golem?
    – magicker72
    Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 2:09
  • Where in his translation? The introduction? A specific section of the work?
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 2:20
  • @DoubleAA et al there is not a single page recipe as it were for this practice, rather a person would need to read and understand the entire work, synthesize and apply it. On page 22 R' Kaplan specifically calls attention to the fact that use of the sounds and letter formations outlined in the book can be used to create a golem Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 2:42
  • +1 but I think I remember an even more explicit comment he makes along the lines of concentrate on this to make a Golem. Or something like that.
    – user6591
    Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 14:45
  • In the site kabbalahselfcreation.blogspot.com you mentioned at the end of your answer, have you ever tried what he writes about? Is the author religious (or Jewish?), The photo of him does not indicate.
    – larry909
    Commented Feb 10, 2017 at 11:28

If there was such a thing, it would be inappropriate to publicize in a forum like this. The way to further your understanding of these matters is make yourself more fitting for the information to be revealed to you. It's not like a magic trick that you look up. The book Path of the Just by R Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (a great kabbalist) is a path to achieve enlightenment. Reading and applying his insights will get you closer to your goal. Then seek a personal guide/mentor/rabbi who is well versed in kabbalah to guide your growth.

  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya Rabbi W, and thanks for the answer. Consider reading this Beginners' Guide to the Site. Sourced answers are especially appreciated around here, so letting us know how you know what you wrote, is optimal. Even if you don't have a particularly textual source if this is something you heard, and from whom, is beneficial. Hopefully you choose to stick around the site and continue enriching it.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 4:13
  • 6
    shouldnt this be a comment?
    – ray
    Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 5:59
  • 3
    This does not provide an answer to the question. Once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post; instead, provide answers that don't require clarification from the asker. - From Review
    – Scimonster
    Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 5:24
  • @Scimonster, the question was "Is the recipe for this procedure documented anywhere? couldnt see it in the sefer yetzira" and this post says "It's not like a magic trick that you look up.", i.e., no, it's unlikely documented anywhere accessible. It even goes further gives guidance on how to attain the knowledge. Seems like an answer to me.
    – msh210
    Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 11:24
  • Shalom aleichem "P". Excellent advice regarding Mesillat Yesharim. Commented Feb 10, 2017 at 12:38

Rabbi Kaplan in the introductory section of his translaion of seffer yetzira mentions this gemara. He writes on page xix:

There are many interpretations as to exactly what these two sages accomplished in creating such a calf, and why they did it. Some say that they did not actually create a physical calf, but created such a clear meditative image that the spiritual satisfaction was the same as eating (Yad Ramma). Even such a Kabbalist as Abraham Abulafia maintains that their creation was mystical rather than physical. (Ner Elohim quoted in G. Scholem hakabbalah shel hetemunah vesehl Abraham Abulafia p. 217). Rashba saw particular significance in the fact that they would engage in this on Friday, the day which mammals were originally created. This entire question will be discussed further in our commentary.

So although Rabbi Kaplan himself through many comments displays his belief in the ability to create life through various methods surrounding the seffer yetzira, he seems to be leaning here towards the idea that no actual physical calf was in fact created.

I'm not sure where he is referring to further in his commentary and he certainly mentions a Golem creation many times, but this seems to be his thought on this matter.


This site has some instructions for a Golem which might be helpful in making the calf: http://golem.plush.org

  • To anyone thinking it's link only, it isn't. The question was for a source, not the recipe itself.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Feb 10, 2017 at 16:07
  • It seems from the site that the source is based on Sefer Yetzirah
    – larry909
    Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 0:36
  • Yeah, but even the link itself is a source as far as are concerned. I was just affirming the legitimacy of your answer.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 2:50

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