THE SABBATH IN MEDIEVAL JEWISH LITERATURE
LIFE for the medieval Jew would have been utterly intolerable had he not possessed spiritual "Cities of Refuge" to which he could escape from the horrors of medieval reality. One of these "Cities of Refuge" was the Beth ha-Midrash, the house of study, where every Jew carried out his religious duty to "meditate in His law day and night" ( Ps. 1.2). Another was the Synagogue where every Jew prayed for redemption, and in so doing deepened his faith in the ultimate vindication of Israel's suffering. Not the least of these "Cities of Refuge" was the Sabbath when the Jew did not merely recover from the ordeals of the week, but gathered sufficient strength of body and spirit to face the trials of the coming week. On that day he was honored host to the divine Princess Sabbath; and he rejoiced in his exalted role.
Medieval Jewish literature reflected the Jew's high regard for and the deep love of the Sabbath. This is particularly evident in the literature of the Spanish Jews. The many literary works of their scholars, poets, and philosophers frequently discussed the Sabbath both in regard to its holiness and to its unique role in the life of the Jew. The excerpts in this chapter were culled from the writings of a few of the men who rank among the greatest of that era. Judah Halevi, who was born in Toledo, Spain, in 1085, was the greatest Hebrew poet of post-biblical times. He was also a philosopher of note, having written The Cusari in