New Book Uncovers Rogatchover’s Take On the Golem Of Prague

The new and expanded Hebrew edition of JEM’s popular book the ‘Early Years’ – Shanim Rishonot, features dozens of new documents and data.

Presented as a virtual museum of documents, photographs, private journals, letters and diaries, Early Years was not an easy book to rewrite. Marking the culmination of a years-long effort to review and add even more context to the iconic volume published in 2017, the book has been newly-published in Hebrew just in time for Yud Alef Nissan..

Case in point: Take a look at this fascinating nugget. In a letter published in Tzafnas Paneach, the Rogatchover clarifies his opinion on the existence of the Golem of Prague. The Gaon explains that the questioner’s assumption – that he did not accept the Golem’s existence – was incorrect:

“The listener did not understand what I told him. I simply addressed his question of whether the Golem could join a Minyan and the like, saying that the Golem was not a person by Jewish law. That said, it does not necessarily negate the historical reality of the Golem, just that it was not a “person” at all for the purpose of joining a Minyan…” 

Recently, background research on Shanim Rishonot led to the discovery of the questioner at hand and identified him as none other than famed Chassid, Rabbi Eliyahu Chaim Althaus. This remarkable discovery is just one detail from over a hundred pages of new content, including tens of new documents and photos.

Since it hit the shelves some four years ago, Early Years has won outstanding acclaim from scholars, critics and the general public alike. And while the Rebbe’s followers found inspiration in learning from the Rebbe’s formative years, academics lauded the book’s groundbreaking look at the personal life of the man who, as much as anyone else, set the course of Jewish history in the twentieth century.

The product of a decade-long, worldwide research project, Early Years tells the riveting story of the Rebbe’s early life. And while it presents a vast array of historical manuscripts and records, it also succeeds in sharing a highly engaging account of the Rebbe’s early life.

The authors, Rabbis Boruch Oberlander and Elkanah Shmotkin were highly selective in the editing process, curating the materials in a way that allows the reader to access the original data for themselves, while providing clear, illuminating context. Even those who consider themselves to be well-versed in the Rebbe’s life story have admitted to being spellbound by the many new discoveries presented in Early Years.

Shanim Rishonot has gone on sale in Israel in advance of the Rebbe’s birthday this week. 

Shanim Rishonot will, G-d willing, be in stores in the US on the 8th of Iyar (April 20th) for just $35. It is available for preorder around the world with a special discount of 10% at

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