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Song of the Distant DoveJudah Halevi’s Pilgrimage$
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Raymond P. Scheindlin

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195315424

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195315424.001.0001

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The National Problem

The National Problem

(p.53) 2 The National Problem
Song of the Distant Dove

Raymond P. Scheindlin (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Halevi’s work is partly a reaction to the deteriorating political and intellectual conditions of the time, the former undermining the Jewish claim to a special covenant with God, and the latter portraying individual religions as mere social contrivances. The Kuzari grounds Jewish claims to special status on their gift for prophecy. In Halevi’s poetry, this status is expressed in themes of competition with Christianity and Islam. (The claim of Israel’s superiority complicated Halevi’s attitude toward Arabic-style Hebrew poetry, which he came to see as debasing the holy tongue; he probably did not, however, vow to abstain from writing poetry.) Halevi wrote extensive poetry dealing with the messianic redemption. But his pilgrimage was not a messianic gesture; rather, it reflects his embrace of quietism, the national counterpart to the theme of trust in God so prominent in his personal poetry. The chapter concludes with three poems that exemplify these themes.

Keywords:   dhimmī, exile, redemption, pilgrimage, taifa kingdoms, competition theme, Arabic verse, quantitative meter, messianism, Kuzari

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