Mi Kamokha, R. Judah Halevi, Venice 1586 (47707)

מי כמכה

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Listing Details

Lot Number: 47707
Title (English): Mi Kamokha
Title (Hebrew): מי כמכה
Author: R. Judah b. Samuel Halevi
City: Venice
Publisher: דפוס זואן דיגארה
Publication Date: 1586
Estimated Price: $1,000.00 USD - $2,000.00 USD
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Description

Physical Description

[8] ff., 16°, 150:105 mm., light age and damp staining. A good copy bound in contemporary wrappers.

 

Detail Description

This small volume contains a piyut (religious hymn) which is customary to recite on the Sabbath preceding Purim (Sabbath Zachor) in certain Sephardic rites. There is a folktale associated with this piyut: R. Abraham Ibn Ezra was the son-in-law of R. Judah Halevi. The tradition goes that R. Judah Halevi had an only daughter and was so tardy in finding her a husband that his wife began to badger him about it. One day he could take no more and swore a solemn oath that he would give his daughter to the very next bachelor who came along. To his wife's horror, the next caller was an ignorant pauper - actually R. Abraham ibn Ezra travelling incognito. R. Judah took him into his home and attempted to educate him, but it proved difficult. The moment of revelation came when R. Judah, engaged in composing this liturgical poem, was having trouble completing a particular line and failed to show up for dinner. The fiance volunteered to fetch him and, having persuaded him to leave his study, stayed behind to look at the poem on the table. He immediately thought of a suitable line and could not resist writing it in. After dinner the father-in-law-to-be returned to his writing-table and, seeing the line written in, realized that the ignorant pauper could be none other than the Ibn Ezra. The marriage was celebrated with suitable rejoicing. There are several different versions of this lovely story.

R. Judah Halevi was the greatest Hebrew poet of his time. Born in Toledo, the capital of Castile, Judah studied with the famous rabbinic scholar, R. Isaac Alfasi. In addition to mastering biblical Hebrew, Arabic and the intricacies of the Talmud, Judah explored the physical sciences, philosophy and metaphysics. He was especially proficient at writing poetry, and soon he attracted the attention of the great poet Moses Ibn Ezra. It wasn't long before his fame spread throughout the Jewish communities of Spain. Because Cordoba was the cultural capital of Spanish Jewry, Halevi migrated there. As he matured, R. Judah Halevi found his voice as Israel's sweetest singer. He left behind an abundance of synagogue liturgy and nationalistic poems. Since he lived at the time of the first crusade, Judah realized the plight of his people. In his most famous work, The Kuzari, R. Judah Halevi foreshadowed the philosophy of Jewish nationalism.

 

Hebrew Description

לחכם המשורר ר' יהודה הלוי ... שנוהגים לאומרו בשבת שלפני פורים...

יוצר לשבת זכור. פותח: אדון חסדך בל יחדל. עיין: אוצר השירה והפיוט, א, עמ' 27, מס' 536. נדפס ראשונה בתוך מגילת אנטיוכס, ואדי אלחיגארה רמ"ב, בערך, עמ' [13-9].

 

Reference

Bibliography of the hebrew book, 1473-1960 #00138861