A Treasury of Jewish Letters: Letters from the Famous and the Humble - Vol. 1

By Franz Kobler | Go to book overview

35
Joseph Ezobi's Wedding Poem to his Son

THE Provençal family of the Ezobis was a home of Hebrew poetry, which was cultivated both by the father, Hayim ben Nathan, and three sons, Eleazar, Meshullam and Joseph. One poem by Joseph, who lived in Perpignan, most probably in the first half of the thirteenth century, was popular for centuries. It was composed as a wedding poem on the occasion of the marriage of his son, and was called 'Ka'arat Kesef' (The Silver Bowl) because its 130 verses corresponded to the 130 shekels' weight of the priestly bowl. Much of it reads like a poetical version of Judah ibn Tibbon's letter to his son (see supra, pp. 156 ff.), though the supreme authority of Samuel ha-Nagid is replaced by that of Maimonides, 'the Sage of God's decree'.

The poetic epistle, reproduced here in a shortened version, was presented by Ezobi to his son with the following, likewise abridged, letter.


JOSEPH EZOBI TO HIS SON

'May this song remain like a witness between us'

[ Perpignan, France, first half of the 13th century ]

...I entreat thee, my son and pupil, for the respect thon owest to thy teacher, and for the honour thou owest to thy father, that thy ears may listen to my admonition as if thy eyes would see me in the flesh. May this song remain like a witness between us. Take it and read it in the days of thy youth, do not leave it, and do not deviate from it also in thy old age. Exalt it and it shall promote thee, it shall bring thee to honour when thou dost embrace it. Fix it like nails into thy heart, appoint a special time in order to read it once every week and particularly if New Moon is on Sabbath. And if perhaps a Sabbath shall pass without day reading it, let not a month pass.... The words of the song must not depart from thy mouth and thy heart. For it is a crown for thy head and an ornament for thy neck.1

-235-

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