Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Golem Tackles Nedarim

by Dr. Shlomo Sprecher

At the start of every new Masekhta in the Daf-Hayomi cycle, a member of the Shiur invariably asks, “which Aharonim are needed to do this one right?”

Well, for Nedarim the answer is “elementary.” We need the Mehaber of the Yadot Nedarim! Of course, our indispensable Nedarim problem solver, R. Yudl Rosenberg, is much better known (in our community, at least) as the promoter of the 16th –century’s greatest Superhero – the Golem of Prague. Unfortunately, as in so many other issues affecting the Jewish community, the New York Times just doesn’t get it. The evidence – a review of This Year in Jerusalem, a memoir by Mordecai Richler, a grandson of R. Rosenberg, that appeared in the Times Book Review of November 13, 1994.  Although the review was laudatory, one chapter of the memoir raised the reviewer’s ire: “there was only one dull stretch, a wandering story by Rabbi Rosenberg that the author saw fit to include. Relatives, like dreams, are most interesting to the people who had them, and the rabbi was not the storyteller his grandson is.”

My attempt at correcting the reviewer’s disparagement of a riveting tale of the Golem’s successful intervention to prevent the shmad of a beautiful Jewish girl apparently was not considered “newsworthy" enough. And so, it remained stashed away in my copy of the Yadot Nedarim, that is, until now, when it can finally be shared through the blogosphere.

Keeping up to date in Golem studies is essential, and so the recent publication of the 600-page Maharal compendium by the Zalman Shazar Center should be consulted to avoid error. In particular, Moshe Idel’s article, “On Astral Golems, Dalai Lama, and the Maharal” is not to be missed. As someone whose confusion regarding the correct  R. Eliyahu Ba’al Shem had to be corrected by Prof. Leiman, I speak from experience.

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