Thursday, October 20, 2022

Review of Robinson, A Kabbalist in Montreal

GOLEM WATCH: The Golem of Montreal (Allan Nadler, Jewish Review of Books).
A Kabbalist in Montreal: The Life and Times of Rabbi Yudel Rosenberg
Ira Robinson

Touro University Press
314 pp., $119

... The sixteenth-century “Golem of Prague,” the giant human-shaped lump of clay who was mystically activated by the Maharal every week to defend the Jews and then deactivated every Shabbat, was not really created until the early twentieth century—and even then only on paper, in a book of tales culled from imaginary manuscripts by the most prolific rabbinic plagiarizer of the modern era.

Ira Robinson’s new biography paints a rich and extensively researched portrait of Yudel Rosenberg, the deeply learned but highly eccentric chief rabbi of Montreal, who moonlighted as a faith healer, magical amulet salesman, oracle, halakhic innovator, Hasidic storyteller, and the most aggressively enterprising kosher chicken slaughterhouse supervisor in Canadian Jewish history.

For many PaleoJudaica posts on the golem tradition, start here and follow the links. Despite the relatively recent origin of the Golem of Prague, the concept of the golem developed out of ideas in the Talmud.

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