Of Bishops and Golems

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7 Responses

  1. Moishe Weiss says:

    Don’t the legends give the name Thaddeus?

    [YA – What I was trying to do was attach the legend to verifiable reality.]

  2. mb says:

    Don’t forget contemporary blood libels as suggested by Swedish ( IDF captured Palestinians for organs) and Dutch (swine flu a Jewish plot) journalists.

    Does the Altneushul have the custom of repeating the Shabbat Psalm on Friday night? Legend has it the Golem escaped during the recitation and the Maharal had to go capture it, thus the necessity to repeat the Psalm.

    [YA – Thanks! Forgetting about the Swedes and Dutch was a serious error of commission. Mizmor Shir: There is lots of material about the custom here. I got the brief version from R Kalcheim, who is a great resource about everything in Prague, and a hands-on competent Rov. Nachum Lamm provided elsewhere one of several accepted reasons. There was an early minhag, imported from Tzfas, of musicallly ushering in Shabbos. An actuall artifact of the group, extant today, proves it. They used instruments, including an organ. The latter was their undoing. In the pushback to reform, the organ became a symbol of the worst tendencies of the Enlightenment, and the practice was discontinued. The early Mizmor Shir – left over from the earlier days when the musical kabbalas Shabbos took place before the actual zman – stayed.

    Another reason offered is that Prague is a city of many takanos. Over twenty of them, dating to the time and authority of the Maharal, can be found on the back wall of the Altneushul. One of them was that all shuls in Prague accept Shabbos when the “main” shul did. Naturally, they wanted this to be as late as feasible; hence, a second, later Mizmor Shir]

  3. Nachum Lamm says:

    mb, that story is in fact the earliest about the Maharal’s golem, and dates only to the first half of the 19th Century- 1837, I think. (Let me stress that no one until then- over two hundred years after the Maharal died- had ever heard of such a thing.)

    The real reason it is repeated is because it was the minhag in Prague to have a Kabbalat Shabbat (a newfangled thing at the time) with an orchestra and organ, which couldn’t be done on Shabbat, of course.

  4. mb says:

    Thanks, Nachum.
    I’m as bit suprised that the Golem story is as recent. Prague was rather an enlightened city, and would have thought this sort of legend preceded the Haskala.
    If anybody is going to find the Golem, I know Rabbi Adlerstein will!
    Next you are going to tell me there was no King Wenceslas!

  5. Bara Loewenthal says:

    I loved your article. I was born and raised in Prague. I live in the US now but Rabbi Efraim Sidon is my uncle. I always felt conflicted walking along the beatifull streets. I could appreciate the architecture and amazing beauty of the city and at the same time I could guess the pain and insecurity that these same street witnessed. Still I just wish you were able to be there when Kantor Feurlicht z”l was the kantor of the Altneu shul, you have never heard a more heartfelt and inspiring L’cha Dodi in your life. Kol Hakavod.

  6. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Sometime between 1965 and 1967 (I don’t remember exactly), my father had to be in Prague for Yom Kippur and was at the Alteneu Shul for the tefillos. As he told us later, they had a pretty large minyan there at the time, even if it was a bit talkative.

  7. Michoel says:

    Interesting! I think the Aruch Hashulchan brings down that there is a “sakana” in saying Mizmor Shiur after the zman. I wonder if there is any connection.

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