Judah Halevi was a Spanish Hebrew poet (b. before 1075; d. after 1141) who wrote several important philosophical treatises as well as secular and sacred poetry (over a thousand works). He is best known for The Book of the Kuzari (a dialogue between a Jewish scholar and the king of the Khazars who had converted to Judaism in the 8th century) and his passionate "Songs of Zion." The following quiet verse was inscribed on the tombstone of an unidentified "Rabbi Abraham."


Do these tears know who made them fall?
Do these hearts know who made them recoil?
They recoiled when their shining light sank into the earth,
and the clods of earth knew not what they hold.
They hold a princely man,
a good man, blameless, upright,
a God-fearing man, discreet and wise.

[1] From: The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse [Back]
Edited and translated by T. Carmi. Penguin Books, 1981.

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