Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

Musar Haskel

MUSAR HASKEL (Heb. מוּסַר הַשְׂכֵּל; also known as Shirei Musar Haskel or Sha'arei Musar Haskel), the name of a frequently printed ethical poem of the 11th century, usually attributed to *Hai ben Sherira Gaon (939–1038). The poem as printed consists of 180 verses, but there is a possibility that it was not printed in full and that in some manuscripts there is more material belonging to it. It was first printed in Fano, probably in 1505, and has appeared many times since then, mostly together with the Ka'arat Kesef of Jehoseph b. Hanan b. Nathan *Ezobi and occasionally also with S.J. Rapoport's essay on Hai Gaon. Although there is not sufficient proof to support the traditional attribution of the work to Hai Gaon, neither is there any evidence that the attribution is impossible. The poem is written in the literary style of the Book of Proverbs and of the Wisdom of Ben Sira. It deals with many aspects of human life, religious and social; it shows in short, rhymed epigrams the ethical way of life. Among other subjects it deals with prayer, the love of God, the love of knowledge, fear of the divine judgment, the treatment of women, and the correct way to conduct business. Every couplet of the poem usually stands alone as an epigram, and only rarely is a topic dealt with in more than two lines. The work was translated into Latin by Jacob Ebert (Frankfurt, 1597).


Benjacob, Oẓar, 307. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Musarei Haskel bi-Meliẓah Na'ah le-Rabbenu Hai Ga'on (n.p., 19th cent.).

[Joseph Dan]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.