The Song of the Distant Dove: Judah Halevi's Pilgrimage

By Raymond P. Scheindlin | Go to book overview

6
Alexandria Again

On May 8, 1141, six weeks after Passover and five days before Shavuot, Halevi boarded a ship in the harbor of Alexandria and began the wait for a westerly wind that would carry him on the last leg of his journey to Palestine.

In the days immediately prior to his embarkation, Halevi found himself once more in the center of a disturbance, this one rather more serious than the imbroglio about the collection of his poems. We learn about this episode from two meaty letters written by Abu Naṣr on May 11, after Halevi had embarked but before his ship sailed. Abū Naṣr reports that on that day, a traveler arrived from alAndalus carrying four letters from Almería: two for Halevi, one for Ḥalfon, and one for a certain Master Isaac in Fustat. Abū Naṣr brought the two letters for Halevi—which are now lost—to him on the ship. He forwarded the other two letters to Ḥalfon, with instructions to forward Master Isaac’s letter on to him. To each of these two letters, Abū Naṣr attached a cover letter. These two cover letters have survived and are full of information about Halevi’s activities during his last days in Egypt. Here is the account from Abū Naṣr’s letter to Ḥalfon:1

A mail carrier arrived from Almería today, and I went to
him and found that he had with him two letters for our
Master Judah and a letter for Master Isaac and a letter for
your honorable self. I gave him some money and took them

-141-

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The Song of the Distant Dove: Judah Halevi's Pilgrimage
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • Introduction 3
  • Part I- A Portrait of the Pilgrim 9
  • 1- Halevi’s Religious Development 11
  • 2- The National Problem 53
  • 3- The Visionary 70
  • Part II- The Pilgrimage 95
  • 4- Alexandria 97
  • 5- Cairo 119
  • 6- Alexandria Again 141
  • Part III- The Pilgrim Speaks 153
  • 7- An Epistle 155
  • 8- In Imagination 163
  • 9- Argumentation 182
  • 10- The Voyage 215
  • Epilogue 249
  • Notes 253
  • Poem Sources 285
  • Bibliography 291
  • Index of Poems 299
  • Index of Names and Subjects 303
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