Biography of Yehudah HaLevi
Yehudah ha-Levi is one of the best-known Spanish Jewish poets. Born in Toledo when it was still under Islamic rule, he became a prolific writer of both Arabic and Hebrew poetry. His writing touches on themes such as love, friendship, religious devotion, hope, wisdom, and sorrow.
Ha-Levi's most famous work is The Kuzari, comprised of 5 essays written between 1120 and 1140. The Kuzari tells how the king of the Khazars decided to adopt Judaism after consulting with apologists for the Christian, Islamic, and Judaic religions. According to Rabbi Eliyahu (the "Gaon") of Vilna, The Kuzari is "holy and pure, and the fundamentals of Israel's faith and the Torah are contained within." It has been translated into Hebrew, Ladino, English, French, German, and several other languages.
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Yehudah HaLevi Poems
Snake-like ringlets waving free?
Have no fear, for they are twisted
To allure you unto me.'
None can with her compare:
Yea, comely as Jerusalem,
Like unto Tirzah fair.
With ruby's crimson overspread;
Her teeth are like a string of pearls;
Down her neck her clustering curls
I plucked it right out, when it thus to me said:
'You may smile, if you wish, at your treatment of me,
But a score of my friends soon will make a mockery of you.'
Suppliant now before You,
Our Father, from Your children's plea
Turn not, we implore You!
Sabbath, My Love
greet my love with wine and gladsome lay;
Welcome, thrice welcome, joyous Seventh Day!
Six slaves the weekdays are; I share
With them a round of toil and care,
Yet light the burdens seem, I bear
For your sweet sake, Sabbath, my love!
On the First-day to the accustomed task