Yehuda Alharizi

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Sefer Refu'at Hageviyah by Judah Al Harizi

Yehuda Alharizi, also Judah ben Solomon Harizi or al-Harizi (Hebrew: יהודה בן שלמה אלחריזי‎, Yehudah ben Shelomo al-Harizi, Arabic: يحيا بن سليمان بن شاؤل أبو زكريا الحريزي اليهودي من أهل طليطلة‎, Yahya bin Sulaiman bin Sha'ul abu Zakaria al-Harizi al-Yahudi min ahl Tulaitila), was a rabbi, translator, poet and traveller active in Spain in the Middle Ages (mid-12th century in Toledo? – 1225 in Aleppo). He was supported by wealthy patrons, to whom he wrote poems and dedicated compositions.

Life[edit]

Judah al-Harizi was born in Toledo in the mid-12th century into a family that was originally from Jerez and was educated in Castile.[1] A Hebrew biographer and a contemporary, Ibn al-Sha’ar al-Mawsili (1197–1256), provided the only known physical description of al-Harizi:[2]

A tall silver-haired man with a smooth face.

As was the practice for educated men of the period, he travelled extensively throughout the region, visiting Jewish communities and various centres of learning across the Mediterranean and the East. He was disappointed by the poor quality of Hebrew learning across the region.[3]

He translated many Arabic works into Hebrew, including Maimonides' Guide to the Perplexed (Ar. "Dalalat al-Ha’irin", Heb. "Moreh Nevukhim") and al-Hariri's Maqamat.[4]

In addition to the many translations, he also produced original works in Hebrew and in Arabic. He wrote a book of his travels, al-rawada al-‘arniqa.[5] He also composed an original maqamain Hebrew, with the title of Sefer Tahkemoni. His Maqama imitated the structure of al-Hamadani and al-Hariri, but his work also reflects his Jewish identity in a society that was in transition, shifting from al-Andalus to Christian Iberia. He is generally regarded as one of the great classical Jewish authors.[6]

He died in Aleppo, Syria in 1225.[7]

Work[edit]

Alharizi was a rationalist, conveying the works of Maimonides and his approach to rationalistic Judaism. He translated Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed and some of his Commentary on the Mishnah, as well as the Mahbarot Iti'el of the Arab poet al-Hariri, from the Arabic to Hebrew.

Alharizi's poetic translation of the Guide for the Perplexed is considered by many to be more readable than that of Samuel ben Judah ibn Tibbon. However, it has not been very widely used in Jewish scholarship, perhaps because it is less precise. It had some influence in the Christian world due to its translation into Latin.[8]

Alharizi's own works include the "Tahkemoni", composed between 1218 and 1220, in the Arabic form known as maqama. This is written in Hebrew in unmetrical rhymes, in what is commonly termed rhymed prose. It is a series of humorous episodes, witty verses, and quaint applications of Scriptural texts. The episodes are bound together by the presence of the hero and of the narrator, who is also the author. Another collection of his poetry was devoted to preaching ethical self-discipline and fear of heaven.

Harizi undertook long journeys in the lands of the Middle East. His works are suffused with his impressions from these journeys.

He not only brought to perfection the art of applying Hebrew to secular satire, but he was also a brilliant literary critic and his maqama on the Andalusian Hebrew poets is a fruitful source of information.[9]

Editions and translations[edit]

  • Iudae Harizii macamae, ed. by Paulus Lagarde (Göttingen: Hoyer, 1883).
  • Al-Harizi, Hebrew: תחכמוני / יהודה אלחריזי ; הכין לדפוס לפי מהדורות שונות, י. טופורובסקי ; הקדים מבוא, ישראל זמורה.‎ (Tahkemoni), ed. Toporowski (Tel Aviv: Maḥbarot le-sifrut, 1952)
  • Al-Harizi, The Tahkemoni of Judah al-Harizi, trans. by Victor Emanuel Reichert, 2 vols (Jerusalem: Cohen, 1965-1973)
  • Judah Alharizi, The Book of Tahkemoni: Jewish Tales from Medieval Spain, trans. by David Simha Segal (B'nai B'rith Book Service, 1996) ISBN 9780197100622 (repr. Littman Library of Jewish Civilization (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2003), https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctv4rfr1p, ISBN 9781874774983)
  • High-quality scans of an 1899 edition of the Tahkemoni in Hebrew from daat.co.il
  • Another scanned edition of Tahkemoni in Hebrew, Istanbul 1578 from hebrewbooks.org
  • Saul Isaak Kaempf, Nichtandalusische Poesie andalusischer Dichter aus dem elften, zwölften und dreizehnten Jahrhundert: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Poesie des Mittelalters, vol. 1 (Prague: Bellmann, 1858) (here a considerable section of the Tahkemoni is translated into German).

Literature on Alharizi's influence in the Christian world[edit]

  • Kluxen, Wolfgang (1951). Untersuchung und Texte zur Geschichte des lateinischen Maimonides. Diss. Köln.
  • Kluxen, Wolfgang (1954). "Literargeschichtliches zum lateinischen Moses Maimonides". Recherches de Théologie Ancienne et Médiévale. 21: 23–50. ISSN 1370-7493.
  • Kluxen, Wolfgang (1966). "Rabbi Moyses (Maimonides): Liber de uno Deo benedicto". Misc. Med. 4: 167–182.
  • Kluxen, Wolfgang (1966). "Die Geschichte des Maimonides im lateinischen Abendland". Misc. Med. 4: 146–166.
  • Vajda, George (1960). "Un abregé chrétien du `Guide des égarés´". JAS. 248: 115–136.
  • Hasselhoff, Görge K. (2004). Dicit Rabbi Moyses. Studien zum Bild von Moses Maimonides im lateinischen Westen vom 13. bis 15. Jahrhundert. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann. ISBN 3-8260-2692-6.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Cole, P. (ed), The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492, Princeton University Press, 2009, p. 208
  2. ^ Cole, P. (ed), The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492, Princeton University Press, 2009, p. 208
  3. ^ Wacks, D., “Toward a History of Hispano-Hebrew Literature in its Romance Context”, eHumanista, Volume 14, 2010, p. 187
  4. ^ Evri, Y., “Partitions and Translations: Arab Jewish Translational Models in Fin de Siècle Palestine”, "Journal of Levantine Studies", Vol. 9, No. 1, 2019, p. 75; Wacks, D., “Toward a History of Hispano-Hebrew Literature in its Romance Context”, "eHumanista", Volume 14, 2010, p. 187; Cole, P. (ed), The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492, Princeton University Press, 2009, p. 208
  5. ^ Cole, P. (ed), The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492, Princeton University Press, 2009, p. 208
  6. ^ Wacks, D., “Toward a History of Hispano-Hebrew Literature in its Romance Context”, eHumanista", Volume 14, 2010, p. 188
  7. ^ Cole, P. (ed), The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492, Princeton University Press, 2009, p. 209
  8. ^ Mirsky, Aharon; Stroll, Avrum (2007). "Al-Harizi, Judah Ben Solomon". In Skolnik, Fred (ed.). Encyclopaedia Judaica. Vol. 1: Aa-Alp (2nd ed.). Detroit: Thomson Gale. pp. 655–657 [p. 657]. ISBN 0-02-865929-5. It was, however, through Al-Harizi's translation that Maimonides' ideas were propagated in the Christian world. An anonymous Latin translation of the Guide, published in Paris by Agostino Giustiniani in 1520, is based on Al-Harizi's translation and was used by the English schoolmen. Al-Harizi's version also served as the basis for Pedro de Toledo's Spanish translation (published by M. Lazar according to the Ms. 10289, B.N. Madrid, in 1989, Culver City, Calif: Labyrinthos).
  9. ^ Mirsky, Aharon; Stroll, Avrum (2007). "Al-Harizi, Judah Ben Solomon". In Skolnik, Fred (ed.). Encyclopaedia Judaica. Vol. 1: Aa-Alp (2nd ed.). Detroit: Thomson Gale. pp. 655–657 [p. 656]. ISBN 0-02-865929-5. Apart from its literary merit and brilliant, incisive style, the Tahkemoni also throws valuable light on the state of Hebrew culture of the period, and describes the scholars and leaders of the communities visited by the author. Al-Harizi gives vivid descriptions of the worthies of Toledo, the poets of Thebes, a debate between a Rabbanite and a Karaite, and conditions in Jerusalem. The Tahkemoni also contains critical evaluations of earlier and contemporary poets, although Al-Harizi's appraisal of his contemporaries is not always reliable and occasionally misses their most essential features.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • J.N. Mattock, "The Early History of the Maqama," "Journal of Arabic Literature", Vol. 25, 1989, pp 1-18