Download The Song of the Distant Dove: Judah Halevi's Pilgrimage by Raymond P. Scheindlin PDF

By Raymond P. Scheindlin

Judah Halevi (ca. 1075-1141) is the simplest recognized and so much loved of medieval Hebrew poets, partially due to his passionate poems of eager for the Land of Israel and partially as a result of the legend of his demise as a martyr whereas reciting his Ode to Zion on the gates of Jerusalem. He used to be additionally one of many most advantageous theologians of medieval Judaism, having written a treatise at the that means of Judaism that remains studied and commemorated through conventional Jews. As a member of the rich Jewish elite of medieval Spain, Halevi loved the fabric pleasures on hand to the higher periods. along his sacred poetry, he wrote verses approximately younger romance, wine songs, and odes to his buddies. In midlife, Halevi became extra heavily to faith, ultimately forsaking his kinfolk and neighborhood with hopes of finishing his lifestyles as a pilgrim within the land of Israel. Miraculously, a couple of letters in Arabic have been chanced on approximately fifty years in the past, a few written through Halevi, a few written to Halevi, and but others written approximately Halevi by way of his neighbors in Egypt. those letters guard a vibrant list of Halevi's travels as a pilgrim and of the final months of his existence. Raymond Scheindlin has written the 1st book-length therapy of Halevi's pilgrimage in any language. He tells the tale of Halevi's trip via decisions from those revealing assets and explores its that means via discussions of his stirring poetry, offered the following in new verse translations with complete observation. In Hebrew verse of unprecedented attractiveness, Halevi salutes the Holy Land; he argues with neighbors approximately his intentions; he units out his myth of crossing the sea, of jogging the hills and valleys of the Land of Israel, and of death and mingling his bones with its soil and stones. He even confides his mystery fears and uncertainties, his eager for his relatives, and his worry of loss of life at sea. along with his consummate ability as a translator of Hebrew poetry and his mastery of Judeo-Arabic tradition, Scheindlin offers clean insights into the literary, non secular, and ancient points of Halevi's pleasing poetry and fateful trip.

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He characterizes asceticism merely as a kind of service to God that men have arrived at through the application of their reasoning and personal opinions, but Jewish ritual, being based on the revelation of God’s specific demands, is a higher system that cannot be arrived at by mere reason. halevi’s religious development 21 Yet even the rabbi is forced to admit that the prophets sometimes spoke in the same terms as ascetics (2:48), and he speaks with admiration of the rare individuals for whom unworldliness is natural and appropriate: mystics; philosophers, such as Socrates; and the prophets of ancient Israel.

Perhaps, like many, he felt that he had worked too hard at directing the course of his own life, not trusting in God to take care of his needs in accordance with the demands of tawakkul. 53 Guilt and repentance were an element in Halevi’s pilgrimage, but repentance alone is not enough to explain Halevi’s decision, for he could have repented in other, more conventional ways. He could have turned to Talmud study, as he had fantasized in his epistle to Rabbi Habib of al-Mahdiyya. He could have retreated inward, as recommended by Bahya, while externally going about his normal life.

This return is only possible when the body has died, and then only if the soul has kept itself uncontaminated by worldly things. But the rare soul that has kept itself aloof from the mundane world and has refined itself by cultivating its intellectual powers sufficiently can achieve moments of such union, ecstatic moments when it is briefly out of the body (from Greek ek-stasis, “standing outside”). Those souls that have not kept themselves pure will not achieve this union even after death; thinkers differed on what their fate would be, but all agreed that it was an unhappy one.

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