Golems and sex.

Okay, the following is from Moshe Idel’s GOLEM: JEWISH MAGICAL AND MYSTICAL TRADITIONS ON THE ARTIFICIAL ARTHROPOID (SUNY Press, 1990).

I’m not gonna provide all the citations Idel does, because, well, who’s got time for that? But suffice it to say that GOLEM is pretty heavily sourced and looks to be quite reliable.

So….

“The Aramaic term for an anthropoid used by the editors of the Sanhedrin passage is gavra’, literally, a man, and, more specifically, a male person. In Hebrew, on the other hand, an unmarried woman was considered to be, like an unmarried man, an imperfect being, and she was referred to in classical texts as a Golem. This designation implies her being an imperfect, hylic entity, prior to her becoming a vessel (keli) for her husband, so that she will attain her essential perfection as woman. In light of our previous explanations of the meaning of the Golem, it seems that in this case as well the term stands for a human body that did not receive its ultimate perfection. Moreover, the relationship between the woman, conceived of as a Golem, and the process of her becoming a vessel, keli, namely her reaching her “natural” goal, is reminiscent of other Talmudic discussion where Golem stands for the unfinished form of a certain vessel, which becomes that vessel when it is given the final touch. The penetration of the needle is paralleled by the Talmudic view of the husband as the maker of his spouse: bo’alaikh ‘osaikh.”

But what you’re interested in, I know, is not about early Jewish sexism, but about the good stuff: what are the rules about having sex with a golem?

It’s only in the 17th century, and that in Central Europe, that the rabbis begin to address this vital problem.

We begin with Genesis 37:3, in which “Joseph brought to his father an evil report.” What was it? Not specified in the Bible. Midrashic sources differ: eating the limbs of an animal before its death, having relations with Canaanite female, or behaving contemptuously toward brothers who were the sons of servants. But! There’s a different Jewish tradition: that Joseph accused his brothers of having incestuous sex with unspecified females.

Worse: “The occurrence of such an accusation against Joseph as a denouncer, raised serious questions about the veracity of the report? was it possible that Joseph, the symbol of the righteous in Jewish tradition, was a liar? And if not, did the sons of Jacob actually transgress these grave transgressions?”

So Rabbi Isaiah Horwitz, in his SHENEI LUHOT HA-BERIT (circa 1620), “adduced” a tradition (which is to say, made one up) to solve the problem: just as it’s written in the GEMARA that “a three-year-old calf was created on each and every eve of Shabbat, by the study of SEFER YEZIRAH, and by the combination of divine names,” so too did the brothers, *obviously* create a female using the same methods for the purposes of sex. Joseph thought the brothers were committing incest and moreover disregarding the honor of their brothers by preventing the sons-of-servants from having sex with the nice golem lady, so that’s why he did what he did. “Look how the tribes were righteous and Joseph was righteous too, being the foundation of the world and righteous in all his ways.”

Now, there was another issue. Halakha forbids close relatives (including brothers and sons and fathers) from having sex with the same woman. But this doesn’t apply to nice golem ladies. Who therefore can’t be considered human, as Rabi Zevi Hirsh of Munkacs ruled. Neither can golems be counted toward the minyan, because the golems are less than woman and are not required to conform to all the legal prohibitions.

Since you were wondering: “in another context, the version of Rosenberg indicates that the Golem did not have any sexual desire, otherwise it could have been dangerous as his power would have overcome everyone. In this context, the fallen angels are mentioned, obviously in order to compare the sexual liberties of these mighty angels with the possible danger of the Golem.”

Can a golem give consent? The rabbis differ. Some say golems have “rational power,” which would mean the usual rules of sex apply. Others say, no, they don’t have rational power, so not only would you be having sex with a lesser thing than a human, but one without the ability to give consent. But one thing everyone agrees on is that golems can’t be created with “procreative power,” since only God, May He be blessed, can bestow that on a creature.

Any questions?

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *