Friday, June 15, 2007

Rabbi Chayim Bloch & The Golem

Excerpt from the JewishGen ShtetLinks page for Delatyn:

R' Chayim Bloch (full name R' Moshe Chayim Ephraim Bloch) was a member of a family of scholars and rabbis from Delatyn and neighboring Nadworna. He was a descendant of the early Chassidic author, Moshe Chayim Ephraim of Sudilkov, a grandson of the Ba'al Shem Tov. R' Bloch studied in Yeshiva, and until World War I was a wealthy businessman in Delatyn. When the Russians invaded he moved to Vienna with his wife and children. In 1915, he was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian army, and served in the trenches for 9 months, until he succumbed to illness. On release from the hospital, he served as chaplain to the Jewish prisoners in a prisoner of war camp. R' Bloch continued to observe kashrut during his military service, despite the extreme difficulty. It was during this period that he wrote Der Golem and also a diary, published as Kriegstagebuch Eines Juden (War Diary of a Jew). In 1939 he moved to New York where he remained until his death.

In 1909 Rabbi Yudel Rosenberg published Nifla'ot Maharal im ha-Golem in which he introduced the Maharal's golem as the defender of a Jewish community confronted by a blood libel. A decade later, Chayim Bloch published The Golem. Mainly a retelling of Rosenberg's tale, Bloch brought his ability as a superb storyteller and introduced a new feature, the potentially violent nature of the golem. Rosenberg and Bloch laid the foundation for today's widespread dissemination of the story.

the Seforim blog: More on story fabrication - The Golem


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