Wednesday, March 8, 2023

The HaLevi We All Know


Yehuda HaLevi was one of the great Jewish poets and thinkers, but he was all but forgotten until 1838.  Hillel Halkin, the author of this HaLevi biography, tells us that most HaLevi’s poems were discovered in a bookshop in 1838.

Halkin takes us through the various stages of HaLevi’s life, even the considerable gaps.  HaLevi’s distance from the Jewish philosophers who would follow him shortly after his death is fascinating:

“In the whole of The Guide, Maimonides never once introduces the idea of a redemptive scheme for history…. Whereas The Kuzari is concerned with the historical need to revitalize the Jewish people, The Guide openly expresses its preference for the single individual over ‘a thousand ignoramuses.’” 

If you know a great deal about HaLevi, this book will sound familiar.  If you are just learning, this is an excellent introductory work.

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