JEHUDA HALEVI Selected Poems
Translated from the Hebrew
and with an Introduction by Nina Salaman
From the critical text edited by Heinrich Brody
JPS Library of Jewish Classics
The gift of poetry, deeply cherished by the Jews of medieval
Spain, reached its highest development in the poems of
Jehudah Halevi. Born in Toledo in 1086, Jehudah Halevi—
physician, philosopher, poet—is the radiant sun in the
Golden Age of Spanish Jewry.
Heine described him as "God-kissed." His soul, bound
up with profound love for his people, hungered to return
to the lost land of Zion. In 1141 he set out on a journey to
Palestine. His poems describe the hardship of the voyage,
the stormy seas, the exquisite loveliness of the coming
of evening, and the star-filled canopy of sky over the sea.
Everywhere he went—Alexandria, Cairo, Tyre, Damascus—
the Jews welcomed him with warmth and urged him to
abandon his perilous pilgrimage. But he continued his
journey. Tradition tells us he was slain by an Arab horseman
when at last he reached his goal and was singing his great
Song to Zion by the ruins he had all his life longed to see.
This edition of the poetry of Jehudah Halevi, reissued now
as virtually a facsimile of the original 1923 edition, is part of
the ongoing effort of the Jewish Publication Society to make
their Schiff Library of Jewish Classics available
to a new generation of readers.