THE GOLEM OF CHELM

As they climb up the narrow, steep spiral staircase that leads to the synagogue attic, the wise men of Chelm exchange comments on the usefulness of a staircase to access the upper floor of a building, which is the worldly issue that they have been weighing in the course of the last days. Upon reaching the landing of the attic, they are in such a small space that most of them must wait on the stairs. That allows them to value more carefully the practical aspect of that ingenious invention called “stairs”. What a difference between this and the rudimentary method they use in the town hall to access the upper floor! That method requires two people, one to bend down and offer their hands intertwined as an impulse platform and another to deposit a foot in it. Depending on the expertise and strength of the one who stays on the lower floor, the one who ascends to the upper floor can suffer an accident, either because he fails to pass through the open hole between the two floors and crashes into the ceiling, or because he is propelled upward at excessive speed, which causes a rough landing on the upper floor.

While the wise men who remain on the stairs reflect on this, the Grand Rabbi Tzvi rummages with the key in the lock of the small attic door. When the lock yields, a flock of bats leaves fluttering awkwardly, dropping the wise men’s yarmulkes and (due to the fright) the wise men themselves. In the light of the oil lamp, the Grand Rabbi enters the attic followed by Evron. They are in a relatively wide triangular space with a porthole devoid of glass where the rest of bats flee.

The Grand Rabbi raises the lamp and slowly moves it around him until he suddenly stops as if struck by lightning. In a corner of the attic lies a being remotely resembling a human being, or maybe a huge plate of porridge, or a mixture of both. When approaching with stealth, he discovers an inanimate being made of clay and devoid of facial features. As he expected, there it is, hidden for centuries in that forgotten attic: the original golem created by Rabbi Elijah Ba’al Shem!

It takes a lot of work to transport the Golem downstairs. The same work that takes to transport Fishel, Feivel and Chatzkel, who have lost consciousness upon seeing the disturbing appearance of the golem.

Shortly after, in the Beit Midrash attached to the synagogue, the Grand Rabbi Tzvi engraves the “Shem” (the Hebrew letters sewn on the piece of cloth in which the key was wrapped) with a stiletto on the golem’s forehead. The wise men of Chelm watch him do it with bulging eyes and from a safe distance, right next to the front door, just in case they have to run away suddenly.

This is a non-profit blog whose purpose is to raise funds for children in need. So if you want to make a donation in exchange for this story, click on this link to UNICEF. I really appreciate it!

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