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Judah Ha-Levi On Writing The Kuzari: Responding To A Heretic

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Chapter Summary

A Genizah letter written in Judaeo-Arabic by Judah ha-Levi contains unique information on the writing of his famous theological opus, the Kuzari, which he calls the ‘Khazarī Book'. Through a new reading and analysis of the Kuzari passage, this chapter attempts to shed light on ha-Levi's tolerance towards heretics, among other things. To put his mind-set in perspective the chapter analyzes revisions made by Maimonides in his writings on heretics and a variant known from Genizah manuscripts in the text of Birkat ha-Minin, the malediction of the heretics in the daily Jewish liturgy. Maimonides modified the Talmudic death sentence for heretics so as to exclude second generation heretics, to whom one should appeal peaceably.

Keywords: Birkat ha-Minin; Genizah letter; heretics; Judah ha-Levi; Khazari Book; Kuzari; Maimonides



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