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Chacham Tzvi: The Status of A Golem Print E-mail

GolemThe 1st of Iyar is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Tzvi Hirsch Ashkenazi, the Chacham Tzvi (1660-1718); learned in Salinka at 14 years of age under Rav Eliyahu Covo; married the daughter of the Av Beis Din of Altuna-Hamburg-Wandsbeck

(AHU) in 1689, and succeeded him in 1705; became Azhkenazi Rav of Amsterdam in 1710; went to Temishlev, Poland in 1714; then to Lemberg (Lvov); father of Rav Yaakov Emden.

The most interesting Responsum of the Chacham Tzvi (#93) is regarding his family tradition that by means of Divine Names his gradfather, The Saint, Eliyahu of Chelm, had created a Golem from clay. The Talmud (Sanhedrin 65b) testifies to a rabbi who created a man by means of the Book of Creation. The Chacham Tzvi considers whether such a Golem can be counted as part of a minyan.

On the one hand, ten Jews are required, and the Golem is not a Jew. But, on the other hand, the Rabbis say that an adopted child is counted as a natural child (Sanhedrin 19b) and also (Bereishit Rabbah 30:6) that the offspring of a righteous man are his deeds; so that the Golem, createdby the act of the saintly Eliyahu, might be counted as his offspring.

The Rabbi who created the man by means of the Book of Creation, we are told, later destroyed the man. This evidently was not considered to be an act of murder, which applies only to a man born of a woman.

If the Golem could have served such a useful function as to help form a minyan, the Rabbi would surely not have destroyed him. He would have kept him alive to be counted when needed for this purpose. From which, the Chacham Tzvi clinches the argument: it follows that the Golem cannot be counted for a minyan.

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