Judah ben Samuel Halevi|
(1080 - 1145) Spain
Also spelt Yehuda ben Shemuel Ha-Levi, he was one of the greatest Spanish Jewish poets. Born in Toledo, the capital of Castile, while it was still under Islamic rule. He was a prolific writer of both Arabic and Hebrew poetry. He was also a physician and a philosopher. His writings are very diverse and cover such topics as love, friendship, religious devotion, hope, wisdom, and sorrow.
Judah studied with the famous rabbinic scholar, Isaac Alfasi. In addition to mastering biblical Hebrew, Arabic and the intricacies of the Talmud, 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.
If you want to read Judah Halevi's poems, please go at his page in our book Famous Homoerotic Poems