14 May 2007

Season 4: Kaddish (4X12)

Writer: Howard Gordon
Director: Kim Manners

When Jewish man, Isaac Luria is beaten to death by three youths in his market store in Brooklyn in what appears to be a hate-killing, his fiancee and her father mourn his death in traditional fashion. However following his funeral one of the young men who attacked him, Tony Oliver is found strangled hinting at a possible revenge attack in a racial tense neighbourhood, only Luria's finger prints are found on the body.

Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate whether vigilantes are to blame, or if it is the work of some higher force. They trace anti-Semitic pamphlets to Curt Brunjes, the owner of a local copy shop in the area and tell him about Oliver's death and the rumours that Luria has risen from the grave to avenge his death. Unbeknownst to them the two other youths involved in Luria's death, Tony Banks and Clinton Macguire are listening in the back room. That night they dig up Luria's body to make sure he is dead, Banks opens the coffin and finds Luria's body inside but as he turns to tell Macguire, he finds him lying dead on the ground.

Mulder and Scully visit the scene and Mulder finds a book under Luria's head which bursts in to flames. They questions a Jewish intellectual about the book, which it turns out to be a book on Jewish mysticism and should not have been buried with the body. Mulder discovers details in the book about the Jewish myth of a Golem, a living being made of earth brought to life by a righteous man. Could a Golem be responsible for the revenge attacks?

The episode title, "Kaddish" is the name of a traditional Jewish mourning prayer that is repeated daily for thirty days for a relative or spouse, or eleven months for a parent, following the day of burial. The prayer is also repeated on the anniversary of death. A mourner recites the Kaddish and a quorum responds in unison with appropriate phrases. The quorum consists of at least ten Jewish males who have passed their Bar Mitzvah (usually age thirteen).

Issac Luria is named after the famous rabbi of the same name, who is regarded as the father of Jewish mysticism.

The mystical Jewish book that had to burst into flames refused to do it on cue. When it finally did, it burned with a sudden flame so huge that David Duchovny had to fling the specially rigged book to the ground and dash out of camera range.

In an early draft of the script the Anti-Semitists were black to mirror the actual situation in Brooklyn which involves tension between Orthodox Jews and their African-American neighbors.

Isaac Luria is presumed to have returned as a Golem, which, in Jewish folklore, is a being created for a purpose, often to defend or avenge. However, the supposition Mulder puts forth that this is Luria returned from the dead is one of several departures from the legend of the golem, which is made from clay or mud and activated by inscribing a holy word on the creature's forehead, either one of the names of God or the Hebrew word for truth (Emet). It could be stopped by erasing the word. This explains the significance of the word that appears on the corpse's and the golem’s hand (another departure from the legends). In yet one more variation, Jacob suggests that Ariel (or the power of her love alone) raised the golem, when, in fact, is an ability reserved for the wisest and holiest rabbis.

Scully: You haven't heard the rumours?
Shopkeeper: What rumours?
Scully: That Luria is back from the dead; that he's arisen from his grave.
Shopkeeper: What kind of Jew trick is this?
Mulder: A Jew pulled it off two thousand years ago.

Mulder: It seems pretty redundant, doesn't it? Messing up somebody you've already killed? I think they were afraid.
Scully: Afraid?
Mulder: Afraid that the man they hated enough to kill wasn't really dead.

Episode Number: 88
Season Number: 4
First Aired: Sunday, February 16, 1997
Production Code: 4X12

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