The Lost Golem
by Mel Waldman
|Act 1 of 3|
Rabbi Samuel Levy
Act 1, scene 1
It is August 18, 2052, a dog day afternoon in Brooklyn. The sprawling sun is oppressive. In the Midwood section of Brooklyn, David Goldstein sits at his desk in his studio apartment and writes. But he is struggling with every word, for he has writer’s block. And his air conditioner is broken. He sweats profusely inside the rectangular oven he calls home. Suddenly, he stands up and paces back and forth. Then he faces the audience, whom he cannot see.
[David Goldstein] Who am I? My name is David Goldstein. A poet and a writer, I live in Brooklyn, New York and teach English at James Madison High School, the local high school not far from my home.
For years, Rabbi Samuel Levy has begged me to teach English at one of the yeshivas. But I have adamantly refused. I used to be an Orthodox Jew. But today I call myself a secular Jew without faith, without G-d.
Yet Rabbi Levy is my friend. I do not understand. He says I will be a man of faith again. I do not believe... Still, I cherish my time with Rabbi Levy, the Orthodox rabbi of the Tree of Life Synagogue.
For some inexplicable reason, he befriended me years ago and continues to reach out to me although we have very different religious views. Sometimes, I am an atheist. At best, I am an agnostic. Of course, I used to believe in G-d, the omnipotent and omniscient Hashem.
Yes, I used to believe. So long ago... Even now, I study the Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, struggling to fathom the incomprehensible... The Sefer Yetzirah is particularly obscure... puzzling... to my human mind.
Who am I? My name is David Goldstein. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, I am home here, although I can’t recall my childhood and adolescence and... Can’t recall my parents. It seems I suffer from amnesia. Most of my earlier life is a mystery. Who am I? What happened to my parents? Do I have a brother or sister somewhere? What happened to me? Who am I?
Is there someone out there who knows who I am-where I come from, where I’m going? Hashem, please tell me who I am! If You exist, let me feel your presence. Hashem...?
There is a long silence.
Oh, G-d, who am I?
Act 1, scene 2
David Goldstein sits at his desk and writes. Behind him, a giant appears out of nowhere. Unaware of the stranger’s presence, he continues to write. But from time to time, he looks up and gazes at the audience.
[David Goldstein] Why is it so hard to write one perfect word? A poet is supposed to know how to do this, for a poet is a creator. I need one perfect word now followed by a string of perfect words until... I am able to write one perfect sentence followed by a string of perfect sentences until... I am able to write one perfect story. Yes, one perfect story! I am a creator. Therefore, I must continue to create. I must...!
(He stands up and walks toward the audience.)
Who am I? I am a Jew. A poet and a writer. An English teacher. A man struggling to find himself. Yes, I am that man. But who am I?
(He paces back and forth and when he turns around, he sees the giant in the distance.)
Who is that? Am I hallucinating? How did this giant enter my home? How?
(He walks toward the giant.)
Who are you? (The giant does not speak.) Who are you? And how did you get into my home? I did not hear your footsteps. I did not hear the door open or close. (The giant looks quizzically at David. Still, he does not speak.) I will call the police. I will! Explain who you are and how you got into my home. Now!
(But the monolithic creature does not speak nor does he move. He stands like a statue... or a centurion. David turns around and scurries toward the audience.)
Have I gone mad? My eyes have deceived me. This giant who suddenly appeared in my home must be a figment of my imagination. But how did this happen? Why? Perhaps, when I turn around he will be gone. I must be tired. I must be ill. This cannot be unless...he is a supernatural being!
(Slowly, he turns around and faces the stranger).
My G-d, you are still there! Vanish! Go back to where you came from. Vanish!
(Once again, he turns toward the audience.)
Listen. My mind is playing tricks on me. (He rubs his eyes, closes them, and after a few seconds, opens them again.) This time, he must be gone. I will him-to be gone. Vanish, stranger! Vanish! (He turns around.) My G-d, you’re still here! What shall I do?
(He approaches the giant) Are you real? If you are, raise your left arm! (He raises his left arm.) If you are real, raise your right arm! (He raises his right arm.) Drop both arms! (He drops both arms. David turns around and hurries toward the audience.)
Shall I call the police or Rabbi Levy? Did he break into my home when I was writing? Or did he come here from another world, another time? What shall I do? My G-d-Hashem, is this a cosmic joke? Or divine punishment for my lack of faith? Speak to me, Hashem! Speak to me! (A vast silence engulfs him.)
Act 1, scene 3
David Goldstein has summoned Rabbi Samuel Levy to his home. After the rabbi arrives, the two men sit on a black leather couch and discuss the motionless giant who stands in a corner of the room.
[David Goldstein] Is he real, rabbi?
[Rabbi Levy] He seems real, even human. His eyes are dark and sad.
[David G.] You see him too?
[Rabbi L.] Of course.
[David G.] How did he get into my home? Where did he come from? Who is he?
[Rabbi L.] These are good questions, David. But perhaps, the wrong ones.
[David G.] What do you mean, rabbi?
[Rabbi L.] I will soon explain. But do you see anything unusual when you look at him?
[David G.] He’s a giant.
[Rabbi L.] Yes, next to you and me he’s a giant. But look again. What else do you see?
[David G.] There’s something on his forehead. But I’m not sure what it is.
[Rabbi L.] Go to the stranger and look closely.
[David G.] (David stands up and walks toward the stranger. He looks up and gazes at the man’s forehead.) Rabbi, I see Hebrew letters written on his forehead. But from this angle, it is not clear...
[Rabbi L.] Well, what can you do?
[David G.] (David looks quizzically at the giant.) I’m not sure, rabbi. What can I do?
[Rabbi L.] Don’t act like a fool, David. Think!
[David G.] (Once again, David gazes at the giant.) Bend your knees, giant, so I can clearly see your forehead. (The stranger bends his knees and David’s eyes dart across the man’s forehead, which is now directly opposite and level with David’s line of vision.)
[Rabbi L.] Do you have a clear view now?
[David G.] Yes.
[Rabbi L.] What do you see?
[David G.] I see the Hebrew word EMET inscribed on his forehead. But what does it mean?
[Rabbi L.] It means G-D’S TRUTH.
[David G.] But why is his forehead marked? I do not understand. Rabbi, what is going on?
[Rabbi L.] I can only speculate...
[David G.] Yes?
[Rabbi L.] But before I leap into the dark void of imagination and pretend I am a scientist with scientific hypotheses, may I ask you a few questions?
[David G.] Of course, Rabbi Levy.
[Rabbi L.] What were you doing before the stranger appeared?
[David G.] I was writing.
[Rabbi L.] What were you writing?
[David G.] Nothing much. A few words... a few lines... some poetry... notes for a story... I suppose I was free associating, trying to find the buried secrets of my soul in order to create... something beautiful... something absolutely divine!
[Rabbi L.] Did you succeed?
[David G.] No! I had writer’s block. I couldn’t let go. Couldn’t find the hidden purpose of my poetic words. Perhaps, I tried too hard. Of course, I wrote a string of pretty words. But nothing more.
[Rabbi L.] When you are ready, David, I believe Hashem will reveal the secrets of your soul and your words will flow like sparkling gems across His divine river.
[David G.] Thank you, rabbi, for believing in me.
[Rabbi L.] You are a humble man, David Goldstein. A gentle and beautiful being. Be patient, my friend. Your words will flow again. But in the meantime, I have another question for you.
[David G.] Yes?
[Rabbi L.] What were you doing before you started writing?
[David G.] I was reading a Kabbalistic book — the Sefer Yetzirah.
[Rabbi L.] The Book of Formation!
[David G.] Yes, some call it the Book of...
[Rabbi L.] Creation! (There is a long silence.) Did you understand it?
[David G.] Of course not! It baffled and confused me. Yet I was drawn to it — almost compelled to read it — even though I could not fathom its many secrets. Rabbi, it beckoned me!
[Rabbi L.] I see.
[David G.] Do you?
[Rabbi L.] Of course.
[David G.] Yes, I believe you do understand. I believe...
[Rabbi L.] And now, it is time for me to speculate... hypothesize... and therefore, I must take you on a long journey back in time to the 16th century. Later I would like to read your pretty words. But now, we must travel far to the ghetto of Josefov in 16th century Prague. Come David, it is time to enter the mysterious labyrinth of the universe. It is time!
Copyright © 2007 by Mel Waldman