Shabsi lifted his head from the ground and saw something rising from the dirt. So tall, so powerful
habsi never burned the scrolls. When it was dark, he raced into the forests surrounding the yeshivah and began to pace back and forth. His heart burned with fiery emotions. He would never be good enough. Never. It would always be people like Shimshon who would steal the admiration and respect of others. He was too strange, too small, too pathetic.
Shabsi angrily brushed away a tear rolling down his cheek.
Well, if you can’t be the hero….
Shabsi bent down and began to trace a form on the dark, forest ground. He took out the scrolls, his mind concentrating so intently as he murmured the words etched upon the parchment, that the sights and sounds of the forest vanished entirely from his consciousness.
He stood there for hours, not moving an inch. And then, at the right time, he began to circle the creation he had etched in the mud. More hours passed, the level of concentration and intense brain power he exerted almost caused him to collapse with exhaustion, but he did not let his mind stray for even one second from the task at hand.
The world spun before his eyes, and eventually, as his lips uttered the last words on the parchment, his vision went black, and he pitched forward onto the ground.
And then, the forest trembled.
Shabsi lifted his head from the ground and saw something rising from the dirt. So tall, so powerful. He craned his neck and stared in awe.
His golem stared down at him, blinking in the darkness, a look of confusion and wonder on its massive face.
Shabsi swallowed hard and pointed at the golem.
“Pinchas. Your name is Pinchas. That was the name I always had in mind for you. I am your master, and you will obey only me. Forever.”
The golem stared at Shabsi silently.
“I can’t believe it.” Shabsi walked forward, his heart beating wildly. “It worked!”
“Pinchas,” Shabsi’s voice rang out in the still forest. “You will be my protector, my servant. My friend.”
The golem stared, then slowly nodded its head in affirmation.
Shabsi kept Pinchas a secret for many months. He knitted him special clothing and kept him safe from the elements by sheltering the golem inside a cave not far from the yeshivah.
Every night, after everyone else had fallen asleep, Shabsi would sneak away and spend hours together with Pinchas inside their cave, talking about everything that was troubling him. The golem would listen in complete silence, only every so often widening his eyes or nodding his head as Shabsi’s voice reached higher pitches as he poured out his heart and soul.
But one day, as Shabsi knew deep down would one day happen, someone discovered his giant secret. It was the gamekeeper’s son. The gamekeeper, charged with caring for the yeshivah’s property, had a son who was always snooping around where he didn’t belong. Often he stole items from the bochurim; other times he just eavesdropped on conversations.
And this non-Jewish boy noticed that Shabsi was scurrying across the river on a raft every night. So one night the boy followed. He stood outside the cave and heard Shabsi sobbing to someone, but strangely, he heard no response from the other person.
Suddenly, Shabsi had a feeling someone was listening outside. Sure enough, when he emerged he discovered the gamekeeper’s son and began to scream at him.
“What are you doing here? Leave at once!”
“Or what?” the boy sneered, his black eyes flashing with indignation as his pale skin seemed to glow in the dark. “You’re too small to be telling anyone off! If I wanted to, I could toss you in the river like a sack of sticks! So you’d better tell me right now who you’re talking to. Or is there no one there, and you’re just crying to yourself?”
The boy’s laughter rang in Shabsi’s ears.
“Tell me!” The boy shoved Shabsi, who fell backward and landed in the mud.
At that moment, the golem emerged from the cave. He looked down at Shabsi, then at the gamekeeper’s son. His eyes narrowed.
The golem’s massive hand came down and with one flick of its enormous fingers, he sent the boy flying like a bread crumb, spinning through the air until he landed in the middle of the river with a loud splash.
“Pinchas! No!” Shabsi stood up and pushed at the golem’s legs, which was like trying to shove a tree trunk. “You might have killed him! You can’t hit! Never! Unless my life is in danger!”
Suddenly, lights could be seen across the river. The yeshivah had woken up from all the noise. Shabsi could see torches moving toward the riverbank and rafts being launched to rescue the body that was bobbing up and down in the water.
“No, no,” Shabsi whispered, the color draining from his face. “Now they’re all coming. They’ll discover you and it will all be over!”
A few rafts had made it already to their side of the river. Shimshon raced forward, emerging from the dark to confront his friend.
“Shabsi, are you all rig—”
Suddenly, Shimshon froze. What he had taken to be part of the mountains was moving and he could finally see the outline of the golem.
“I-I’m sorry, Shimshon… I had to.”
“Shabsi…” Shimshon took a deep breath to steady himself. “Listen to me. The others are coming, and when they do it might be too late. You know what you must do to put the golem down and turn it back to dust. I will help you. We must work quickly, before anyone discovers tha—”
Shimshon jumped. Even Shabsi looked shocked that he had yelled so loudly.
“Pinchas is my friend. I won’t let anyone do anything to him.”
“Shabsi, don’t be absurd! It’s a golem! And look what’s happened already because of it!” Shimshon pointed across the river where people were huddled around the body that had been retrieved from the river.
“Maybe he’s still alive, Shabsi. I don’t know. But I do know that you have to make a decision. And quick. Let me help you, Shabsi. Don’t throw your life away because of one mistake!”
“There’re people over here! Come quickly!”
There was a loud squabble of voices coming closer. More rafts had made it to their side of the river.
Shimshon watched, eyes wide, as Shabsi gestured to his golem, which bent down, its knee causing the ground to shudder as it made contact with the riverbank. The golem gently scooped Shabsi into its hand and stood up.
Then, just as the crowd of people burst onto the scene, the golem was gone, racing through the forest, escaping far, far away, taking Shabsi with him.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the river, the gamekeeper’s son was beginning to revive. He sat up slowly and spat out water, his dazed eyes traveling across the worried faces staring back at him.
“He’s alive!” someone shouted. “What is your name, boy? Do you remember?”
“Yes,” the boy croaked. “Sylvester….”
To be continued…
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 978)
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