About This File
A masterful biography of Yehuda Halevi, poet laureate of the Jewish people.
Like Maimonides, with whom he is often contrasted, Yehuda Halevi spanned multiple worlds. Poet, physician, and philosopher, Halevi is as well known today for poetry that is taught to schoolchildren and has become part of the Jewish liturgy, as he is for The Kuzari, one of the most important works of Jewish philosophy ever published. Hillel Halkin brilliantly evokes the fascinating world of eleventh- and twelfth-century Andalusian Spain and discusses the tangle of religious and cultural influences–Christian, Muslim, and Jewish–that formed Halevi. And he pieces together the mysterious fragments of Halevi's last days and his final, fateful voyage to Palestine.
An acclaimed writer and translator, Halkin intersperses his account of Halevi's life and tragic death with excerpts from his poems and a magnificent analysis of them. He also places Halevi's philosophic writings within the larger context of Jewish thought, analyzes his rediscovery by Heinrich Heine and other members of the nineteenth-century German-Jewish intelligentsia, and provides a comprehensive overview of the ongoing debate over Halevi's legacy as a Zionist visionary.
HILLEL HALKIN's work includes Across the Sabbath River: In Search of a Lost Tribe of Israel, Letters to an American Jewish Friend, A Strange Death, and a translation of Sholem Aleichem's Tevye the Dairyman and the Railroad Stories. His essays and columns have appeared regularly in Commentary, as well as in The New Republic, The Jerusalem Post, The New York Sun, and other publications. He lives in Israel.