"Upon hearing an accurate rendition of the golem story from his teacher, he commented to his teacher that he should easily be able to create a live human. The Vilna Gaeon affirmed the assertion, and said that he once began to create a person when he was a child, under the age of 13, but during the process he received a sign from Heaven ordering him to desist because of his tender age..."
-The Vilna Golem
My name is Felix, and this is the tale of my golem. At the age of thirteen , I lived with my mother at a small ranch in the country. You might think this sounds like a particularly happy place for me, but you would be quite wrong. I didn't have any friends, yet I yearned for one very much. But, ever since my father died at a young age I regressed socially. Perhaps there was a deep rooted fear that something may happen to anyone I got too close to, but as I was essentially still a child I was unaware of these subconscious anxieties. Because of this, I had a hard time being social.
I considered myself to be a good kid, and didn't mind doing things for others. Yet, the more I was treated as strange and an outsider, the more I wanted to act like one. Feeling that no one understood me, I began to read frequently. Soon, my reading levels surpassed all my peers and I even read at a college level. I hoped this would impress other children around me, but sadly it only made them see me as even stranger than before.
One particularly bad day, I went by the library to find something new to read that could distract me from the hardships I'd encountered and lucky for me I certainly found something to do just that. Previously, I'd been reading Greek and Norse mythology and it led to me reading various folklore. This time, I found a book on Jewish folklore. The cover featured a giant clay-like monster and I was instantly intrigued. I practically ran home with the newly found book and went straight to my room to read.
Within minutes, the troubles of my day were forgotten when I read the tale of the golem over and over. Every detail was fascinating to me. The thought of creating a life from mud or clay using a mystic ritual and Hebrew letters...it sounded like a fantasy story. But even this was not the most intriguing aspect. What really piqued my interest the most was being the master to another creature, which meant that I could make the golem my friend and finally not feel so alone.
So I began going to the library more and learning all that I could to make my golem creature and within months I was fully prepared. I'd gathered heaps of mud and earth from the backyard and eventually formed a human shape. It wasn't particularly large, but it was taller than an average man at about six feet. My mother was concerned that my imagination had gotten away with me too much, seeing that I spent most of my time talking to this heap of earth.
"You should be playing outside with other children and talking to them, not your mud friend," she chided me.
"But none of the kids like me, mother! I've tried, but they don't even give me a chance."
"Well, that's negative thinking! You must think positive, I! Then you can do anything!"
This was a common type of conversation that my mother had with me, and she never changed her approach. I thought it moronic to simply think that just being positive could change anything. I'd sincerely tried and as it turned out the logic was rubbish. The results were the same whether I was negative, positive, or anywhere in between.
Finally, my mother decided that I wasn't going to give up on my golem project and stopped bringing it up. When I got an idea in my head, it was nearly impossible to get it out.
So the day of the ritual finally came, as I was left alone at the house to perform the ritual of animation. I knew my mother would disapprove of what I was about to do this was the perfect opportunity.
I began the ritual with Hebrew incantations along with various mystic rites. The last task I had to perform was to inscribe the golem's name which could be done in a couple of ways. I decided to use a stick and inscribe it's name into the clay itself so that the name could not accidentally be erased.
"I shall call you Emet." I spoke as I formed the letters. The name was soon scrawled into its forehead, and I stepped back and held my breath. Nothing happened. Feeling disappointed, I soon told myself how foolish it was when I realized something. Restating the golem's name, this time in Hebrew, it soon became apparent that it was the missing link.
The clay material composing the golem began to vibrate and then began to harden and take a firmer shape. I was very satisfied to see that the detail I put into Emet's face began to really show as the golem began to animate. I knew the expression and emotion would be important if the golem were to be my friend.
A light began to glow within the letters on the golem's forehead, and then the creature's eyelids blinked once, twice, and then a faint light shone in its eyes. It looked all around, seeming to take in its environment. It moved its arms, then its legs as if trying to understand itself.
"Like a newborn baby," I thought in wonder as my creation was now truly alive. Emet looked about and locked eyes with me, and right away I sensed recognition in them. The golem stared at me, as if waiting for something.
The golem leaned its head forward as if to say , "yes?"
"Come here, Emet."
The golem slowly and methodically walked towards me, and stopped within a couple of feet. I inspected the marvelous creature all around, unable to believe how defined the shape was. Now, I needed to know the creature's intellectual capacity, as I'd read that golem's communication skills were limited.
"Emet, do you understand me?" The golem stared back. I needed to be more specific.
"Emet, shake your head up and down if you understand me." The creature shook its head in response. "Now give me a thumbs up, like this." I held my hand out and raised my thumb.The golem obeyed, mimicking the pose.
"Haha, all right!" Emet looked back blankly. "You can stop now. Emet, I'm going to teach you everything I know! I'll get you up to speed on everything you'll need to understand so we can be best friends! That's why I created you. "
So over the next month, I worked tirelessly to teach the golem many commands, responses, and all the knowledge I had so that we could communicate well with each toher. I even thought to give Emet orders not to respond or act when anyone else besides me was around. There was no sense in scaring anyone else away.
I even taught Emet language so that he could learn quicker without having to gesture to everything. After a while, I'd become quite the teacher, but in more ways than one.
The astounding fact that I learned throughout all of this was that Emet had become quite self-aware. Emet was taught to think on his own, ask questions, and be more than a robotic puppet. There was still obedience whenever given direct orders, but Emet learned to communicate his curiosities of the world around us. He began to think on his own, and I reveled. I was very much his Rabbi, but also his friend.
One day, Emet asked a very surprising questioning as we explored the countryside.
"Rabbi Felix, are there more of me?" Emet's genuine tone caught me off guard.
"No, I don't think so. It's just you as far as I know." I replied. "Why do you ask?'
"Well, I was just wondering if I had any brothers or sisters. You know...someone like me."
My heart ached for him, understanding very well how it felt to be alone. And even though I had family, I didn't see them often and frankly, I never felt like I completely fit in with them.
"I can understand wanting to know that. That's a good question."
"I was wondering then...could you make another golem? It would be nice to have someone to talk to while you're away. I tried talking to the earth, but it doesn't seem to talk back."
I sympathized, yet wasn't sure what to think about having two golems aronnd, especially if they were as self-aware as Emet was. Something about the idea didn't sit well with me, but I'd try to oblige him. Besides, Emet was only at my level of awareness because I'd taught him. Anything that golems learned was only through their Rabbi.
"I tell you what I'll do, Emet. Feeling this way could be just a temporary thing. Let's give it a week and see if you still feel that way about it.
After a week, Emet still felt lonely knowing he was the only of his kind. So I performed the ritual again, yet for some reason it didn't work. I tried again and again, but the rites did not provide any new results. It was after researching that I realized that what truly gives life to a golem is the willpower, purpose, and intent of its creator. As much as I tried, I couldn't make myself want another golem, and this was why I couldn't create another one.
With a heavy heart, I explained to Emet that I couldn't make another of his kind. The look of sadness in his eyes pierced me that day, and for a brief second I swore I saw a glimpse of a tear forming.
"This must be how it felt when mother told me that a wolf got to Mama Cat..." I thought.
Meanwhile, as my relationship with Emet grew, all other human relationships slowly deteriorated. The bullying at school intensified, and I regularly came home with a nosebleed, scuffs, or marks of all kinds. I was smart enough to keep these hidden from my mother and it helped that she was so busy working that she didn't notice anything wrong. But everything still seemed manageable when I had Emet to speak with.
"You are hurt again." Emet noticed when he approached me.
"Yeah, I know." I replied without meeting his gaze.
"Why do you not fight back?"
"I've tried, but there's too many of them."
"That is not a fair fight."
"Yeah. If it wasn't for Tom, the others would probably leave me alone. He's kind of the leader."
"He is not a nice boy. Is there some way I can help?"
"I dunno what to do. It seems like nothing I could do would work. His little cronies just follow me around and do everything he says. Makes me wonder if they're afraid of me. I wonder if he bullies them too. Maybe I could try to take 'im when he's alone, but mother says looking for a fight isn't the right thing to do. Besides, he'd just get me back when his friends are with him. If I'm honest about it, sometimes...sometimes I wish he would just disappear."
"That is understandable. I am sorry for what has happened."
"It's alright, Emet. You being here for me helps. I just don't understand why no one else sees me like you do."
"I am glad to help my master."
So Emet helped me with my chores, and before my mother got home I ordered Emet back to his hiding place in the woods. When I told Emet good night, I swore there was a look in his eye, almost as if he was concerned about something. Yet, I quickly brushed it away as the golem's mind probably wandered many things.
The next day, I went to school and anticipated the bullies to approach me. Yet, I saw the cronies, but no Tom. As the day went on, whispers began to make rounds at the school that something had gone wrong with Tom. Police officers even showed up to school and began talking to teachers. Apparently when she awoke that morning, Tom was nowhere to be found.
As dark as the thought seemed, I was happy that the bully was not there to make me feel miserable. In fact, as far back as I could remember there wasn't many days that Tom wasn't there to make me feel less than human. Yet as the days went by, I began to feel bad for this enjoyment.
A week passed, and there had been no sign of Tom. School was different from the melancholy and mystery of the event, and I even thought of this as an opportunity. It was a longshot, but perhaps if I showed some sympathy to Tom's followers, they'd accept me. While the first two I tried talking to didn't believe me, the third did.
"Hey, so look...this may sound strange coming from me, but I'm sorry to hear about Tom," I told a young blonde girl not much older than me. Her name was Adele, and the only girl of Tom's posse. I always thought she was quite pretty. It was strange to feel that way about someone who was part of why I hated being at school.
"Thanks," she said plainly. It was apparent she didn't entirely trust my motives, but she could see the sincerity in my eyes. "And you're right, it is weird coming from you."
"I know, it's just...I was thinking about how upset my mom would be if I just disappeared one day. I'm all she has now so...maybe it could be the same for him."
"Well, for his mom, yeah. I can't feel too bad for Tom's dad, though. Any bit of bad in Tom came from his dad. We've been around them enough to know. Thanks, anyway.."
When I went home that day, I was shocked to see that Emet was not in his usual place. I frantically searched all around the property, and was finally relieved to see that Emet was in a garden.
"Emet!" I called, and the golem turned to face me. For a second, his expression seemed to read something that resembled "guilty."
"What are you doing here? You're not supposed to go anywhere alone!"
"Oh....I'm sorry, but that was not the instruction you gave."
"So what did I tell you then?"
"You said that I was not to do anything when someone else was with you because I might frighten them."
"Well yeah...but you're not supposed to be out by yourself, either! That could also frighten people if they see you!"
"Oh...I was not commanded this. I am sorry for disappointing you."
"It's okay, it's just...people don't understand what you are. And people are afraid of what they don't understand. And when they're afraid of something, they want to control it or destroy it. I don't want any of those things to happen to you."
"What are you doing out here, anyway?"
"Picking flowers. I found these for you. It would look lovely in your mother's garden."
Emet pointed to a batch of violets, and I was dumbfounded. I had no idea that flowers were of such interest to him. As much as we talked, I probably talked about myself more than him. Immediately, I felt bad about this. Much like the mind of a child, Emet was probably very curious about a lot of things.
Before I could say anything, Emet reached down and attempted to pluck the flowers. Just as I was going to chastise him about taking the flowers, his fingers crushed them from being too plump and clumsy. His look of disappointment stifled my chastisement.
"It's okay, Emet. It was an accident. They're not ours to take, anyway." This seemed a gentler way of soothing while explaining why it was wrong.
Then a thought came to me.
"Emet, have you gone out on your own before?"
"Where do you go?"
"Anywhere, really. Exploring the land. Seeing where people live."
"Whoa wait...how far have you gone?"
"A couple of miles at most."
"What...has anyone ever seen you?"
"Just one person."
In the back part of my mind, I could feel a creeping anxiety running through me. Thoughts of past conversations and other bits of information all began to link in my subconscious. Whoever it was...it wasn't going to be anything good.
"Emet...who saw you?"
"The one you wished to disappear."
Instantly, I felt sick and turned away for a moment. I'd never even considered what he said would be seen as a command.
"Master? You don't look well."
"Emet...where did you take him?"
"Would you like me to show you?"
Ten minutes later, we were deep in the forest...way deeper than I had ever been. It was obvious that Emet had been there before. He knew exact path to take. The cicadas sang their song peacefully as we traversed through the trees, a large contrast to the dread that I had in my belly. He had no idea what kind of condition Emet had left Tom in.
"Emet...I have to know before the anticipation kills me....is Tom alive?"
"I do not know."
"So what, you just left him out here?"
A mixture of fear, anger, and guilt pelted me. Despite whatever Emet did, I felt like I was ultimately the one to blame. I began wondering if I should have ever made Emet to begin with. It was becoming too much of a responsibility.
Emet stopped at a small clearing of trees, and turned towards me.
"Why did you stop?"
"Because we are here."
"This is where you left Tom?" I was confused. It was a random clearing, so why leave me there? "Well, apparently he escaped."
"I feel sure that he's still here."
"Okay, so where is he?"
Without a word, Emet pointed to the ground near my feet. Hands shaking, I lowered the beam of my flashlight downard.
Tom was not there, but the earth was recently disturbed...