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Judah Halevi

(1086 - 1145)


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Judah Halevi was the greatest Hebrew poet of his time. Born in Toledo, the capital of Castile, Judah studied with the famous rabbinic scholar, Isaac Alfasi. In addition to mastering biblical Hebrew, Arabic and the intricacies of the Talmud, Judah explored the physical sciences, philosophy and metaphysics. He was especially proficient at writing poetry, and soon he attracted the attention of the great poet Moses Ibn Ezra. It wasn't long before his fame spread throughout the Jewish communities of Spain. Because Cordoba was the cultural capital of Spanish Jewry, Halevi migrated there. As he matured, Judah Halevi found his voice as Israel's sweetest singer. He left behind an abundance of synagogue liturgy and nationalistic poems. Since he lived at the time of the first crusade, Judah realized the plight of his people. In his most famous work, The Kuzari, Halevi foreshadowed the philosophy of Zionism and Jewish nationalism.


Sources: This material was originally published in Sparks! - an e-zine for Jewish families located on the Internet at http://www.sparksmag.com

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