Judah Halevi

Spanish-Jewish philosopher, poet and physician (c.1075–1141)

Judah Halevi (also Yehuda Halevi; Hebrew: יהודה הלוי; Arabic: يهوذا هاليفي; c. 1075–1141) was a Spanish Jewish poet and philosopher. He was born in Spain, either in Toledo or Tudela, in 1075 or 1086, and died shortly after arriving in the Land of Israel in 1141. Halevi is considered one of the greatest Hebrew poets, celebrated both for his religious and secular poems, many of which appear in present-day liturgy.

A statue of Judah Halevi


  • Thy way of thinking is indeed pleasing to the Creator, but not thy way of acting
    • Part One
  • Thou must not deem it improbable that exalted divine traces should be visible in this material world, when this matter is prepared to receive them. Here are to be found the roots of faith as well as of unbelief"
    • Part One
  • Divine Providence only gives man as much as he is prepared to receive; if his receptive capacity be small, he obtains little, and much if it be great.
    • Part Two
  • According to our view a servant of God is not one who detaches himself from the world, lest he be a burden to it, and it to him; or hates life, which is one of God's bounties granted to him.
    • Part Three
  • The pious man is nothing but a prince who is obeyed by his senses, and by his mental as well as his physical faculties
    • Part Three
  • As regards the Sādōcaeans and Boēthosians, they are the sectarians who are anathemised in our prayer. The followers of Jesus are "the Baptists" who adopted the doctrine of baptism, being baptized in the Jordan."
    • (Part Three, "the Baptists" refers to the word meshumadim in the jewish prayer, followed by the words "will have no hope", the hebrew word can be explained in other ways)
  • This means that Jerusalem can only be rebuilt when Israel yearns for it to such an extent that they embrace her stones and dust.
    • Part Five

Quotes about Judah Halevi

  • One of the greatest Hebrew poets, Judah ha-Levi was also an anti-rationalist. His chief work, The Book of the Khazars, was a dialogue in defense of Judaism, attempting to show the superiority of revealed religion to reasoned truth. He pointed out the dependence of Christianity and Islam upon Judaism; he regarded the Jews as possessed of a unique religious sense and Palestine as an unequalled region.
    • Albert Edwin Avey, Handbook in the History of Philosophy. New York: Barnes & Noble. 1954. p. 89. 
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