To be called by one’s true name

A story from old Prague:

Rabbi Yehuda Loew ben Bezalel was the greatest of the European rabbis. So great were his deeds that I can scarce give them utterance lest by uttering them I become accursed by their magic. His was the Golem, the animated man, given life when he put under its tongue the Unutterable Name of God. On that, let us say no more.

One night, Rabbi Yehuda dreamed a dream, or in other words, he saw a vision. He stood before the throne of God. The sentinel asked, ‘Who are you?’ ‘I am Rabbi Yehuda of Prague,’ he replied, ‘the maker of the Golem.’  The sentinel was unmoved.

‘Tell me, angel,’ the Rabbi asked, ‘is my name written in the Book of Life?’ The sentinel opened the book and began reading. He read strange names in strange tongues and as he read, the spirits of those names flew into the glory that burned above the throne.

He finished, Rabbi Yehuda’s name seemingly unnamed. The Rabbi wept bitterly.

The angel said, ‘I have called your name.’ Rabbi Yehuda said, ‘I did not hear it.’ And the angel said, ‘In the book are written all the names of all of the souls who have ever lived on the earth, for every soul is an inheritor of the kingdom. But many have come here who do not know their true name. Many have heard it only once on the lips of man or angel and must wait here until they remember. Many have never heard their true name and must wait here until they are silent enough to hear the King of the Universe calling them.’

Rabbi Yehuda awoke and cried, ‘King of the Universe! Let me hear my own true name on the lips of my brothers.’

Comments

  1. I’ve been reading a lot of Kabbalah lately for background research for the new book and having a great time with it. Thanks for nodding toward that literature.

  2. Nicely remembered.

  3. Interesting that the paper under the Golem’s tongue, or the name inscribed on the forehead, read “emet” or truth.

  4. Wow. That is a really beautiful story.

  5. i too brought life to a golem. all it required was 6 colorless mana.

  6. Ronan, who speaks our true names? God? or or brothers?

  7. Is your “true name” dependent on the day you decide to show up?

  8. Steve,
    Far be it for me to interpret Jewish mysticism. As with all great stories, there are many possibilities. I think the Rabbi learned that it’s preferable for others to call us our new names than to wait for God. That is an intriguing possibility: my salvation depends on you.

  9. StillConfused says:

    I took this to mean that he focused too much on his title as Rabbi and what he thought was an important thing that he had done rather than focus on the simplicity by which he is viewed by others and God.

  10. That works.

  11. I’d never run across this story of Rabbi Löw before. Where did you find it!?

  12. I heard it once, remembered it, and decided to write it down. Not sure of the source.

  13. it's a series of tubes says:

    i too brought life to a golem. all it required was 6 colorless mana.

    Few, few here will recognize this reference.

  14. If even one soul gets a Magic: The Gathering reference on a mormon site, then my life is complete.

  15. EmmaNadine says:

    Urza, I got it. I actually laughed when I read it. But then, I would be expecting an MTG reference from someone named Urza.

  16. Loved this — thanks.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,475 other followers