Judah ha-Levi

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Judah ha-Levi


Judah Halevy

(both: jo͞o`də hä'lē`vī), c.1075–1141, Jewish rabbi, poet, and philosopher, b. Tudela, Spain. His poems—secular, religious, and nationalist—are filled with a serene and lofty spirit. In his great philosophic work Sefer ha-Kuzari he emphasized the superiority of religious truths, arrived at through intuition, over philosophical and speculative truths, arrived at through logic and reason. In this work he developed a philosophy of history wherein he explains the force of the "divine influence" at work in the world, known first by the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), through them by the Jewish people, and ultimately, through the martyrdom of the Jews, by all mankind.


See The Kuzari (tr. by H. Hirschfeld, 1964).

Judah Ha-Levi


(Abu’l Hasan Yehuda ben Samuel). Rabbi. Born about 1075 in Toledo; died 1141 in Egypt. Jewish poet and philosopher.

Judah ha-Levi wrote poetry in Hebrew and partially in Arabic, as well as philosophical works in Arabic. He traveled widely and was known as a physician. After 1109 he lived in Córdoba, and he died on his way to Palestine. His poetic work comprises secular and religious poems, collected in a divan. The exuberant, bacchanalian love of life in many of his verses on friendship, love, wine, and feasting contrasts with the elegiac grief of the verses devoted to the burdens and suffering of the people. He is the first poet to write about the sea in Hebrew literature. An outstanding master of the form, he used various meters and stanzaic schemes, interspersing his verses with paraphrases from the Old Testament and introducing Arabic and Spanish meters and phrases.

As a philosopher he asserted in his Book of Proof and Argument: An Apology for a Disdained Faith (in the Hebrew translation, Al-Kuzari) the antinomy of science as a manifestation of reason and faith as a manifestation of intuition. Therefore, according to ha-Levi, the system of proofs essential to science cannot be essential to faith.

The work of Judah ha-Levi had a great influence on Hebrew literature and philosophy. His image became legendary, and one of the legends about him was treated by the author H. Heine.


Kul shiray rabbi Yehuda Halevi. Tel Aviv, 1955.


Garkavi, A. Ieguda Galevi, 2nd ed. St. Petersburg, 1896.
Kayser, R. The Life and Times of Jehudah Halevi. New York [1949].
Mohr, A. Yehuda Halevi ha-ish v’ha-m’shorer. Tel Aviv, 1956.

Judah ha-Levi

?1075--1141, Jewish poet and philosopher, born in Spain; his major works include the collection in Diwan and the prose work Sefer ha-Kuzari, which presented his philosophy of Judaism in dialogue form
References in periodicals archive ?
8) He even defended his combination of scholarship and public activity by comparing himself to Jewish intellectual heroes such as Saadya Goan, Maimonides, Judah Ha-Levi, and Moses Mendelssohn, who, like Klausner, did not isolate themselves in ivory towers.
The Machbarot comes close in literary splendor and style to the great Spanish-Jewish medieval masters -- Solomon ibn Gabirol (1020-1057), Judah ha-Levi (1075-1141), and Judah Alcharizi (1170-1235).
Moreover, although the medieval poet and philosopher Judah Ha-Levi (1085-1141) proposed what we would categorize as a racial theory to explain the historic anomalies of Jewish national survival and distinctiveness, his theory cannot be considered racist, in the sense of asserting that the Jews should conquer or dominate other groups.
The approach taken by Rambam (Maimonides) in the Guide of the Perplexed I:63 differs fundamentally from that of Judah Ha-Levi.
Whereas Judah Ha-Levi had argued that the philosophical concept of the impersonal "God of Aristotle" is intellectually inferior to, and less existentially compelling than, the biblical concept of the personal "God of Abraham," Rambam in effect is arguing that the God of Abraham is the God of Aristotle.
Keep in mind, again, that even such an ardent nationalist as Judah Ha-Levi recognized, in all honesty, that Jews are, in fact, no better ethically and no more intelligent or wiser than any other people.
This views harks back to Judah Ha-Levi, who, when chided by the Khazar king about the remarkable promises of Christianity in the hereafter, retorted sarcastically: "None of them are realized until after death.