CHAPTER X
POETRY ATTRIBUTED TO RASHI

Almost immediately upon the birth of liturgical poetry in the time of the Geonim, an illustrious representative arose in the person of Eleazar ha-Kalir,130 who came to exercise a profound influence upon his successors, and in Rashi's day this poetry attained a high degree of development. That was the time when Jews, instead of merely listening to the officiating minister, commenced to accompany him with their voices in antiphonal chants.

Like most of the rabbis of his time, Rashi wrote liturgical poems, the number of which Zunz, with more or less surety, places at seven. Three are still preserved in some rituals. According to Luria, Rashi composed more than this number.

It is fair to question whether a Talmudist is fashioned to be a poet, and whether it is possible for love of discussion and dialectics to accord with poetic sensibility and imagination. Indeed, the liturgical poetry of the Jews of France and Germany has not the least artistic value. It shows neither concern for originality, nor knowledge of composition, and the poets were strangers to the conception of art and beauty. Moreover, they imposed upon themselves rather complicated rules, the most simple forms adopted being rhyme and acrostic.

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