cover image The Golem and the Wondrous Deeds of the Maharal of Prague

The Golem and the Wondrous Deeds of the Maharal of Prague

Yudl Rosenberg. Yale University Press, $26 (220pp) ISBN 978-0-300-12204-6

In this first English translation of Rosenberg's ""groundbreaking collection of stories,"" novelist, translator and scholar Leviant brings the Hebrew work to a wide audience. Published in 1909, the ""pseudepigraphic"" book purports to be a first-hand account of 16th century events in which the Maharal (the Chief Rabbi of Prague) passes on ""the secret concerning the creation of the golem from clay and dust of the earth."" Aided by the golem, who possesses formidable supernatural attributes, the Maharal defeats his nemesis the priest Thaddeus, ""a vicious anti-Semite and a vengeful and vindictive snake in the grass."" Thaddeus works diligently to unleash violence against the Jewish community, but the Maharal provides the spiritual guidance and intellectual counterplots to defeat him. In tone, the tales partake of Scheherazade and Sherlock Holmes, magic and mystery; good triumphs and evil is punished. Leviant's lucid introduction surveys the golem legend and Rosenberg and his innovations. Succinct, pertinent notes clarify Biblical allusions and Kabbala references for readers seeking more than a good story.