This topic is a little strange but I'm curious as to where the concept of Golems fit within the current consensus of Rabbinical interpretations of Witchcraft.

The Golem of Prague is a story surrounding the Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel. He was a Jewish mystic and scholar who lived in Prague and was claimed to have discovered a method for creating a Golem. The Golem in question was created for the purpose of defending the local Jewish community from ongoing antisemitic attacks.

My question is as follows:

Creating a being, regardless of the reasoning behind the creation of such a being, isn't that meddling in forces which aren't meant to be meddled in?

Hashem is the creator and Hashem the sustainer. Wouldn't it be considered a form of individual idolatry for a person to raise themselves up to the level of a creator? Specifically, by forming a life in a method which mirrors the creation of man (creating a Golem from earth)

Were such a thing to be accomplished, what would that make the creator? Would he commit an act against Hashem or would he simply figure out how to harness the powers of Hashem?

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    I edited the question to generalise it. Asking about whether a particular rabbi borders on Jews-not-Judaism. Asking whether a particular theoretical act would be considered forbidden by Judaism, is squarely on topic.
    – mevaqesh
    Apr 2, 2017 at 1:47
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    this isn't the only time a golem was said to have been created. Rava also created one. There were other times throughout history as well. Do you really think either Rava or the Maharal would commit sorcery or idolatry, chas veshalom?
    – Laser123
    Apr 2, 2017 at 5:38
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    @Laser123 Either Rava or Maharal could have had a lone view, not accepted by halakha, about the parameters of sorcery prohibitions.
    – mevaqesh
    Apr 2, 2017 at 15:52
  • @Laser123 And R' Eliyahu Baal Shem Apr 2, 2017 at 16:02
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    Could the Golem be considered more similar to a robot with artificial intelligence than a living creature? It was my understanding that the Golem lacked a soul since only God could provide that.
    – JJLL
    Apr 4, 2017 at 0:34

4 Answers 4


It doesn't appear to be a Halachic problem to create a golem as this article discusses the question of creating a golem and including it for a minyan. None of the poskim in the discussion seem to bring up an issue of creating one in the first place:

Rav Eliyahu Baal Shem of Chelm was best known for being of such stature that he created a Golem [For more on this topic see Yeshurun (vol. 17, pg. 665 - 666), in the article by Rabbi M.D. Chichik about Rav Eliyahu Baal Shem from Chelm. In fact, the story of Rav Eliyahu and his Golem was recently adapted as a hardcover comic book entitled "The Golem of Chelm – Hayah V'Nivra".]. In fact, both of his aforementioned illustrious descendants have written responsa on the topic of the Golem that their grandfather created. The Chid”a [Shem Gedolim (vol. 1, Ma'areches Gedolim - Ma’areches Alef, 166).], in his encyclopedia of Gedolim throughout Jewish history, ‘Shem Gedolim’ also attested to its existence.

But before our readers decry the supernatural turn this article has taken, they should realize that Golems actually do have a place in the halachic realm as well. The issue that these Gedolim were debating was whether a Golem can count for a minyan! Although the Chacham Tzvi (Shu”t Chacham Tzvi 93) at first remained undecided, his son, Rav Yaakov Emden (Shu”t Sheilas Ya’avetz vol. 2, 82) ruled unequivocally that a Golem cannot count for a minyan! Apparently not just a theoretical topic, it is even cited and debated by such contemporary authorities as the Mishna Berura (55, 4) [Although the majority consensus is that a Golem would not count for a minyan (as detailed in the next footnote), there were several other authorities who defended the Chacham Tzvi’s tzad that a Golem would be able to count for a minyan, including Rav Yosef Engel (Gilyonei HaShas, Sanhedrin 19b s.v. sham maaleh alav) and the Likutei Chaver Ben Chaim (vol. 5, pg. 64a, comments on Chacham Tzvi 93), who dismisses one of the Chid”a’s counter-arguments, explaining that even a Golem should need to be 13 years old from the day he was created to count for a minyan! See also Shu”t B’tzeil HaChochma (vol. 6, 99 s.v. uvmch”t) who explains that the very fact that the Chacham Tzvi was originally mesupak whether a Golem can be included as part of Bnei Yisrael and count for a minyan (and although not the halacha l’maaseh) shows that he held that a Golem is mechuyev b’mitzvos; otherwise, there is no hava amina to count him for a minyan! However, it is important to note that although it was apparently not known to the Mishna Berura nor these authorities, the Chacham Tzvi actually later retracted his position!] and the Chazon Ish (Yoreh Deah 116, 1)!

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    The fact that poskim don't discuss something probably irrelevant to the topic at hand, is a pretty bad proof.
    – mevaqesh
    Apr 2, 2017 at 15:49
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    Fair point, although note the first line of the paragraph says Rav Eliyahu Baal Shem of Chelm created a Golem. If he made one, then he presumably held it was permitted. Nonetheless, I see your point that it might not be the accepted halacha.
    – NJM
    Apr 2, 2017 at 16:45
  • And that would predicate the answer on dubious legends...
    – mevaqesh
    Apr 2, 2017 at 17:08
  • @mevaqesh Although I would expect them to comment (especially it's not that the Teshuva of the Ya'avetz stays strictly on topic). Apr 2, 2017 at 20:57

The Gemara and Midrashim talk about both the shevatim and amoroim creating golems. As such, we can be pretty comfortable about it not being forbidden.

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    Welcome to Mi Yodeya!
    – mevaqesh
    Apr 4, 2017 at 11:54
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    Consider sourcing your statements. Also, note that the shevatim aren't overly relevant as they lived before the Torah was given. Also not all opinions of amoraim are accepted. Just playing devils advocate...
    – mevaqesh
    Apr 4, 2017 at 11:56

The Talmud in Sanhedrin 65b records:

Rava says: If the righteous wish to do so, they can create a world, as it is stated: “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God.” In other words, there is no distinction between God and a righteous person who has no sins, and just as God created the world, so can the righteous. Indeed, Rava created a man, a golem, using forces of sanctity.

Rashi there explains that the righteous could do this using the ancient kabalistic work Sefer Yezeirah, traditionally attributed to Avraham Avinu.

Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Daeh 179:15) records such an act as being permissible halachically:

... and with the Sefer Yezeirah it is permissable.

The Shach (18) there explains, and indeed it is quite clear from his language, that he is referring to this source. He writes that it would therefore be permissible under conditions of extreme communal need to create using the formulas contained in the Sefer Yezeirah.


There are those (Yad Ramah Sanhedrin 65b and Shu"t Radbaz 848) that classify such acts as being akin to witchcraft.

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