Judah Loew ben-Bezalel

(known as Maharal)
(c. 1525–1609)
   Prague talmudist. Judah Loew is first definitely heard of as rabbi of ‘all the Moravian communities’ in Nikolsburg in 1553. There he remained for about twenty years, then he moved to Prague, where he established a rabbinical academy. He was chief rabbi in Prague from 1597. A statue of him was erected outside the Prague town hall in 1917.
   Greatly revered for his piety and scholarship, Judah Loew was above all a teacher. A natural story-teller, he reinterpreted that body of folklore, story and legend in the Midrash and the Talmud known as the aggadah. A number of myths later clustered round his name. He was most famed for the legend that he created a golem, an artificial being made from clay and given life by means of permutations of the letters of the Divine Name. The golem served his master and the community for a time, then ran amok on the Sabbath through the rabbi’s forgetfulness. The rabbi therefore disabled the creature by tearing the Holy Name from its mouth. The idea of the golem, that learned men could emulate the creation of Adam by using the Hebrew letters of the Holy Name, is first recorded in connection with the rabbis of the 4 and 5 centuries and persisted in mystical tradition. The story of Rabbi Loew’s golem acquired wide currency, forming the theme of novels, plays, ballets and operatic works right up to the 20 century.

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

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