Judah Halevi 1075-1141 (Philosopher, Poet, Physician)

Judah Halevi (Yahuda Ha-Levi) was a renowned Jewish poet, physician and philosopher in Cordoba, Spain and a contemporary of such luminaries as Ibn Rushd (Averroes) and Maimonides.

A writer of secular poems, his great work is the Kitab Al-Khazari (Book of the Khazars).  It is a fanciful work of literature framed as an imaginary historical dialogue between the king of the Khazars, a Central Asian kingdom, and a Rabbi.  The text incorporates ideas of contemporary Iberian and Jewish philosophy.  The book is written as a response to a legendary quest put forth by the King of the Khazars to decide whether his people, the subjects of his kingdom should convert to Chistianity, Judaism or Islam. The text is written then as a dialogue that answers this question.  The work is seen as a plea for religious toleration that reflects upon the current situation in Andalusian Spain.

Fluent in Arabic and Hebrew, Judah Halevi was distinguished as a linguist and as an intermediary between the Jewish and Muslim communities.  He was a deep scholar of Jewish traditional literatures, of the Torah and the mystical Kabbala literature and wrote numerous works of poetry in Hebrew and in Arabic.