web analytics
July 1, 2015 / 14 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post


Rich Legacy of the Sephardic Jews of Muslim Spain

“Themes of exile and redemption are central to Jewish poetry, reaching new heights of poetic expression in the works of the Golden Age of Spain.”
A statue of Maimonides.

A statue of Maimonides.

The Sephardic Jews of Muslim Spain produced some of the world’s best intellectuals and thinkers throughout Jewish history.

After the Jewish people were exiled from Israel in 70CE, their journey took them all over the world, including Spain. The Sephardic Jews of Muslim Spain, otherwise known as Al Andalus, experienced a golden age from the second half of the eighth century until the end of the eleventh century. This golden age produced some of the greatest Jewish philosophers, writers, poets, scientists, and doctors. Additionally, during that period of time, Jews thrived in the political sphere, reaching to the heights of power in the Spanish Muslim courts during an era when Jews living under Christian rule were being systematically persecuted. The contributions to world civilization produced by the Jews of Al Andalus were so significant that they influence us to this date.

The medieval Jewish chronicler Abraham Ibn Daud claims that the Jewish Renaissance of Al Andalus can best be summed up by the biographies of two individuals, Hasdai Ibn Sharput and Shmuel Ha-Nagid. Hasdai Ibn Shaprut first caught the attention of the Spanish Muslim courts by discovering an antidote for poisons that was also effective against jaundice, snakebites, impotence and the plague. As a result of this discovery, he became quite a prominent political figure within Al Andalus, since prior to the discovery of that antidote for poison many Muslim princes had fallen victim to various harem intrigues. Hasdai was placed in charge of high level negotiations involving the Muslim government and foreign powers.

Shmuel Ha-Nagid was a gifted Hebrew poet, biblical commentator, philosopher, and Jewish vizier of Al Andalus. He was such an important figure that in his poems, he claimed to be descended from nobility and compared his performance on the medieval battlefield to that of the ancient heroes of Israel in the Tanakh. His poetry is unique in the sense that he was one of the few medieval Jews writing war poems based on his own personal experiences engaging in warfare.

Flower Street, Cordoba

Flower Street, Cordoba

Another great Sephardic Jewish figure of notary is Yehuda Ha-Levi, a court doctor, respected Jewish communal leader, poet, and philosopher. His poetry spoke about the Jewish yearning for Jerusalem. According to Jane Gerber, author of The Jews of Spain: A History of the Sephardic Experience, “themes of exile and redemption are central to Jewish poetry, reaching new heights of poetic expression in the works of the Golden Age of Spain.” One of Ha-Levi’s greatest works, however, was his book The Kuzari, which is a fictionalized story speaking about the correctness of Jewish beliefs compared to Greek philosophy, Islam and Christianity via the decision of the Khazars to convert to Judaism.

Yehuda Ha-Levi, Shmuel Ha-Nagid, and Hasdai ibn Shaprut were merely three of the many great Sephardic intellectuals of the golden age of Spain. Other great figures include the poet Solomon Ibn Gabirol, who at age 16 composed a 400-verse poem setting forth the rules of Hebrew grammar; and Maimonides, who reconciled the Jewish religion with the logic of Greek philosophy and whose writings are still studied extensively today. Sadly, this beautiful civilization that promoted such rich scholarship was ultimately destroyed by religious fundamentalism, both Muslim and Christian.

This golden age ended when the fanatical Islalmic Almohads from North Africa who took over Spain didn’t tolerate practicing Jews and neither did the Christian fundementalists who followed them. In the end, following the Christian conquest of Spain, the Jews were given the choice of expulsion, conversion or death. Many Sephardic Jews ended up migrating to the Ottoman Empire, while others celebrated Purim and other Jewish holidays in secret, despite the threat of the Spanish Inquisition.

Visit United with Israel.

About the Author: Rachel Avraham is a news editor and political analyst for Jerusalem Online News, the English language internet edition of Israel's Channel 2 News. She completed her masters degree in Middle Eastern Studies at Ben-Gurion University. The subject of her MA thesis was: "Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab media."

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Rich Legacy of the Sephardic Jews of Muslim Spain”

Comments are closed.

UWI blog logo
Current Top Story
Donald Trump announces he is running for the Republican party presidential nomination.
Trump Ranks No. 2 GOP Candidate in Nationwide Poll
Latest Blogs Stories
Malachi Rosenfeld HY"D

Israel & world Jewry are under attack and in grave danger but UN’s focus is denouncing Israel

Doug Goldstein

What is human chess? How easy is it to predict the actions of others?

Rethink UN bias against Israel

It’s time to stand up against the bias & no longer accept the constant UN prejudice against Israel.

Malachi Moshe Rosenfeld, one of four injured in a terror attack near the West Bank settlement of Shvut Rachel, north of Ramallah, has died (HYD)

Malachi Moshe Rosenfeld, injured in a terror attack in Samaria, has died (HYD)

Allah is NOT merciful: Stabbing, beheading, shooting innocents is barbaric & cowardly acts of terror

How could the Jerusalem Post think the attack could have been other than a terrorist act?

Going to Mt of Olives cemetery was like visiting Jurassic Park in a jeep with dinosaurs rampaging

Hanan Porat z”l, teary-eyed said ” We returned to the Gush(Etzion)we shall return to the Gush(Katif)

“Mispachology”: Theory you share a common link with someone you’ve never met or been in contact with

It seems that Pres. Rivlin has joined all other so-called Right politicians and now is trending Left

Dear Muslims, Happy Ramadan. It’s clear from the news that your people are having a “bang-up” month

The President was right, every Jew should have a gun. He just asked the wrong person about it.

Everybody knows that during Ramadan Arab Muslim terror attacks increase.

UN says Hamas tried to warn us of rocket attacks? I was here. Not once did those…I want to scream

{Originally posted to the author’s website, Emes Ve-Emunah} The inevitable finally happened. Rabbi Avi Weiss has dispensed with his prior refusal to call his female ordainees ‘rabbis’.  I challenged him to stop dancing around that title with made up titles  (like Raba and Maharat) and he finally rose to the challenge. His motivation in not […]

How can you transform thinking to action? What are the mountains you need to climb to reach goals?

More Articles from Rachel Avraham
1024px-Donna_Edwards_at_victory_rally,_February_13,_2008

Edwards is rated #4 by the Arab-American Institute for her pro-Palestine pro-Arab voting record.

saudi_lady_drivers_2013

A Saudi woman’s like a queen without a chauffeur, driven around by Saudi men whenever she commands

“Most of the Palestinians in Judea&Samaria are former Jews, converted by force by the Ottomans.”

Jewish communities worldwide commemorate Yehudit during Chanukah by eating dairy foods in her honor

In Jordan,Palestinians are discriminated in every field: education; healthcare; employment; business

Living is Israel is costlier than in other countries but how will your kids grow up in the diaspora?

Given these statistics, I feel that it is not worth it to live in the United States.

Pro-Israel groups must broaden their coalitions and feature more pro-Israel minority speakers.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/united-with-israel/rich-legacy-of-the-sephardic-jews-of-muslim-spain/2013/06/17/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: