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A Made Man
Excerpted and adapted from a shiur by Rav Yechiel Biberfeld
October 15, 2020
And Hashem Elokim formed man out of dirt from the ground, and He breathed into his nostrils the soul of life, and man became a living soul.
The Gemara (Sanhedrin 38b) states that Hashem created Adam in stages. He first gathered dirt, then He formed it into a golem, then He stretched out its limbs, and finally He blew a neshamah into its nostrils. It seems from here that Adam Harishon was first created as a golem and then transformed into a person (see also the commentary of the Rosh to Bereishis 4:26). In fact, people have also occasionally fashioned golems (see Sanhedrin 65b).
What is the halachic status of a golem? The Chacham Tzvi (93, referenced by Mishnah Berurah 55:4) notes that his grandfather R’ Eliyahu (Av Bais Din of Chelem) made a golem, and expresses uncertainty whether it would count for a minyan, though he concludes that it would not. R’ Yaakov Emden (2:82) argues that a golem clearly cannot count for a minyan, because it cannot have a higher status than a deaf-mute, insane person, or minor, who are human but don’t count for a minyan.
A similar question concerns the status of an animal made with Sefer Yetzirah. According to the Shelah (cited by the Pis’chei Teshuvah, Y.D. 62), it is not an animal, so it does not require shechitah and it may be eaten alive without concern for eiver min hachai (the prohibition of consuming a limb from a live animal). On the other hand, the Chashukei Chemed (Sanhedrin 65) quotes the Chazon Ish (Y.D., Nidah 110:4) that an animal made using the Sefer Yetzirah might still be subject to shechitah, because the rules of the Torah concerning animals apply to any being with animal form.