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
A Love Song
'Do you see over my shoulders falling, Snake-like ringlets waving free? Have no fear, for they are twisted To allure you unto me.'
Fair is my dove, my loved one, None can with her compare: Yea, comely as Jerusalem, Like unto Tirzah fair.
My Sweetheart's Dainty Lips
My sweetheart's dainty lips are red, With ruby's crimson overspread; Her teeth are like a string of pearls; Down her neck her clustering curls
The Grey Hair
One day I observed a grey hair in my head; 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.'
Hymn For Atonement Day
Lord, Your humble servants hear, Suppliant now before You, Our Father, from Your children's plea Turn not, we implore You!
O My Lord, Your Dwelling Places Are Love...
O My Lord, Your dwelling places are lovely Your Presence is manifest, not in mystery. My dream brought me to the Temple of God And I praised its delightful servants,
Awake, My Fair
Awake, my fair, my love, awake, So that I may gaze upon you! And if one is eager to kiss your lips, In your dreams this do you see,
He comes, O bliss! Fly swiftly, you winds, You odorous breezes, And tell him how long
Sabbath, My Love
greet my love with wine and gladsome lay; Welcome, thrice welcome, joyous Seventh Day! Six slaves the weekdays are; I share
The Seventh Day
Forget not the day of the Sabbath, Its mention is like a pleasant offering. During it the dove found resting place, And there the weary may relax.
Into my eyes he lovingly looked, My arms about his neck were twined, And in the mirror of my eyes, What but his image did he find?
Cups Without Wine
Cups without wine are low things Like a pot thrown to the ground, But brimming with the juice, they shine Like body and soul.
My Heart Is In The East
My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west— How can I find savour in food? How shall it be sweet to me? How shall I render my vows and my bonds, while yet Zion lieth beneath the fetter of Edom, and I in Arab chains?
God, Whom Shall I Compare To Thee?
God, whom shall I compare to Thee, When Thou to none canst likened be? Under what image shall I dare To picture Thee, when everywhere
Into my eyes he lovingly looked,
My arms about his neck were twined,
And in the mirror of my eyes,
What but his image did he find?
Upon my dark-hued eyes he pressed
His lips with breath of passion rare.
The rogue! 'Twas not my eyes he kissed;
He kissed his picture mirrored there.