Is there any evidence that Rambam was familiar with the writings of R' Yehuda Halevi? The more concrete the better.

  • 1
    R. Yishaq Sheilat's intro to his book בין הכוזרי לרמב"ם has some information on this topic. I don't have access now but if I recall he argues that the Rambam was indeed familiar with R. Yehudah ha-Lewi. Commented May 1, 2022 at 23:45
  • Sounds like a good resource. I don't know where to get ahold of one.
    – N.T.
    Commented May 2, 2022 at 6:42
  • Yehuda Halévy was from Muslim Spain, like the Rambam, and wrote a lot in Arabic. Rambam wrote that he is familiar with everything written in or translated into Arabic. It is inconceivable that he was not familiar with Halevy's opuses. Commented May 2, 2022 at 20:43
  • @N.T. I have access to it now. I've uploaded it here: gofile.io/d/oTAPBU I suggest downloading it as the file automatically gets deleted after a certain amount of days. Commented May 2, 2022 at 21:15
  • @Deuteronomy Is it in the public domain?
    – N.T.
    Commented May 3, 2022 at 7:03

1 Answer 1


The most concrete evidence that the Rambam knew of Yehuda Halevi is that Yonatan of Lunel, in a letter to him, listed the Kuzari as one of the books Yehuda Ibn Tibbon translated from Judeo-Arabic:

הרב ר' יהודה אבן תיבון הספרדי , אשר הועילנו והשכילנו ולימדנו מספרי החכמות , בהעתיקו אלינו ספר האמונות , וספר חובות הלבבות , ומידות הנפש ומבחר הפנינים , וספר הכוזרי

The Rabbi Yehuda Ibn Tibbon, the Sephardi, who improved us and educated us and taught us from the books of wisdom by copying for us...the Book of the Kuzari...

In another letter, from the Cairo Geniza (T-S 10 K 8.14), a friend writes to the Rambam about missing him, and quotes poetry from Yehuda Halevi to express it. That poem (אחר גלות סוד מה אטמין) was originally written for another Moshe—that is, Moshe Ibn Ezra—and the letter presupposes the Rambam understanding the reference:

And as God put off the appointed time [for writing back], there came to mind the strophic poem having melody, "Why continue concealing when my secret is out," etc., which contains some of his traits coinciding with my yearning and love for him.

--- See Joel Kraemer, "Six Unpublished Maimonides Letters from the Cairo Geniza" (Maimonidean Studies, 1991)

Of course, scholars have devoted much ink to show how the Rambam's writings critically responds to Halevi's, but much of this is theoretical (and the Rambam never explicitly cited him). But, considering Halevi's documented fame in Egypt during the Rambam's time, and the above references, it's certain that the Rambam was at least familiar with his predecessor's poetic and philosophic work. To what extent, and how that might have affected him, is—for now—speculative.

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