Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Fiction: How to make a golem

How to make a golem, God forbid you ever need to

I tell you this in the hope that you never use this knowledge. I tell you this in the hope that the world has changed enough that you never need to use this knowledge, that there will be no more pogroms or genocides. I tell you this so it will not be lost, because God has given us the gift of knowledge and learning and to let such things die is a sin.

You start, my child, with intent and need, the way you undertake any great work. And then the way God started, with a lump of clay. You must touch it with your hands, as we did. We were scholars, our hands unused to such rough work, so we could not shape it into anything more than the rough form of a man, but it was enough. Your golem, if you ever have such need, will surely be a thing of great beauty with delicate hands and well-shaped eyes. If you make it in haste when they are close on your heels and it is poorly shaped it will still work. Its form does not require eloquence.

You must breath life into it, as God did to man, as you might if it were a friend who has lost their breath. And with each breath your associates must utter the true name of God. I tell you that when I heard this as my lips were sealed on its moist, cool mouth, I could feel a trembling begin underneath me, as if it were my lover.

And then you simply write the Hebrew word for truth on its forehead in the damp clay. This is important, remember, because when you must destroy your golem (and a time will come when you must) you simply erase the first letter and the word for death is all that remains, because is there not some small piece of life and death in every truth?

Step back quickly, my dear, because the golem will rise to do your bidding. Anything, exactly as you request, so be careful. Do not, for example, ask it to bring someone to you, because it will do so with no care to their condition when they arrive. I know this.

Do not ask it to speak. If it speaks then it is almost a man and its heart may break with the knowledge that it is yet without a soul. That would be too cruel. I have heard that a golem can sing with such sweetness that angels come to listen, but the ears of men are not made for such song, nor are our eyes now made to witness visitations.

Remember this, my heart. A time will come when the golem knows what it is and that is when you must erase truth leaving only death. Once a thing shaped by human hands knows it is not divine, its wrath becomes boundless and no kindness will ease its sorrow. I know this, too.

I tell you this with the hope that you need never use this knowledge.

I tell you this because I know the world has not yet changed enough.

(c)2009 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License


  1. Simply, wow.

    From the first sentence, you had me fully hooked.

    And then all through, every word was magic, this forbidden knowledge.

    I'll be back for more. Yes, I'll be back for more.

  2. Intriguing! Narrator could be right at home in an Issac Bashevis Singer story.

    Love how you used the hope that the world has changed enough in beginning... and the realization that the world has not changed enough in the ending.

    Nicely done.

  3. Wow, great story. It almost makes you question if humanity itself is "god's" Golem.

  4. This is incredible. Fantastic piece. I love the tone and voice here. I've said that a lot today, I notice, but it's true.

    This is spooky and touching in a strange way. Or maybe I'm the strange one, but the handing of knowledge from one generation to another is such a wonderful thing, and yet it's such terrible knowledge.

    Awesome work.

  5. wow, this was fantastic! Beautifully written!

  6. Nifty! I've always liked golem stories. Thought the bit about not making it talk was a neat detail.

  7. This was fabulous. I don't even know where to begin telling you what I liked about it. It is one of the best pieces of prose I have read in a long time.

  8. Really beautiful. I couldn't help but chuckle at the third to last paragraph--I couldn't help but read a parallel between the golem and the cylons. Maybe it's just me.

    But yeah, very cool. Read it several times. Thank you for it.

  9. Oh Laura, this is above and beyond. You provide just enough information, but not too much, and it is just right. Beautifully packaged in neat envelope structure, a real literary treat, as well as something much, much more. Thank you for this gift.

    P.S. You reminded me of perhaps the most haunting episode of the X-files that I ever saw, called "Kaddish". It is worth seeing.

  10. A wonderful tale, and one of the best flashes I've read.


True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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