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Hebrew Literature

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Masterpieces of Hebrew Literature
At the end of the lesson, students should be able to: 1. Enumerate some of the masterpieces of the Hebrew Literature 2. Know the characters, the plot, and the moral that is enclosed with every literary masterpiece. 3. Demystify the hidden messages of every literary masterpieces.

Duties of the Heart
Author: Chovot HaLevavot * Chovot HaLevavot, or Ḥobot HaLebabot (Hebrew: חובות הלבבות, English: Duties of the Heart), is the primary work of the Jewish philosopher Bahya ibn Paquda, full name Bahya ben Joseph ibn Pakuda. Ibn Paquda was a Jewish philosopher and is believed to have lived in Saragossa, Spain, in the first half of the eleventh century.

* It was written in Judeo-Arabic (but in Hebrew characters) approximately in 1040 under the title Kitab al-Hidāya ilā Fara'id al-Qulūb, Book of Direction to the Duties of the Heart, sometimes titled as Guide to the Duties of the Heart, and translated into Hebrew by Judah ibn Tibbon in the years 1161-80 under the title Chovot HaLevavot. There was another contemporary translation by Joseph Kimhi, but its complete text did not endure the test of time.

* The Duties of the Heart is divided into ten sections termed (she'arim) "gates", corresponding to the ten fundamental principles which, according to Bahya's view, constitute human spiritual life. This treatise on the inner spiritual life makes numerous references to both Biblical and Talmudic texts. It draws on the contemporary Sufi Islamic influences present in his contemporary Medieval Spain and also to the Classics.
Content and message
The essence of all spirituality being the recognition of God as the one maker and designer of all things, Bahya makes the "Sha'ar HaYihud" (Gate of the Divine Unity) the first and foremost section. Taking the Jewish Confession, "Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is One," as a starting-point, the author emphasizes the fact that for religious life it is not so much a matter of the intellect to know God as it is a matter of the heart to own and to love Him.
Bahya held it is not sufficient to accept this belief without thinking, as the child does, or because the fathers have taught so, as do the blind believers in tradition, who have no opinion of their own and are led by others. Nor should the belief in God be such as might in any way be liable to be understood in a corporeal or anthropomorphic sense, but it should rest on conviction which is the result of the most comprehensive knowledge and research. Far from demanding blind belief, the Torah appeals to reason and knowledge as proofs of God's existence. It is therefore a duty incumbent upon everyone to make God an object of speculative reason and knowledge, in order to arrive at true faith.
Without intending to give a compendium of metaphysics, Bahya furnishes in this first gate a system of religious philosophy that is not without merit. Unfamiliar with Avicenna's works, which replaced Neoplatonic mysticism by clear Aristotelian thought, Bahya, like many Arab philosophers before him, bases his arguments upon Creation. He starts from the following three premises:
(1) Nothing creates itself, since the act of creating necessitates its existence.
(2) The causes of things are necessarily limited in number, and lead to the presumption of a first cause which is necessarily self-existent, having neither beginning nor end, because everything that has an end must have a beginning.
(3) All composite beings have a beginning; and a cause must necessarily be created.
The world is beautifully arranged and furnished like a great house, of which the sky forms the ceiling, the earth the floor, the stars the lamps, and man is the proprietor, to whom the three kingdoms—the animal, the vegetable, and the mineral—are submitted for use, each of these being composed of the four elements. Nor does the celestial sphere, composed of a fifth element —"Quinta Essentia," according to Aristotle, and of fire, according to others—make an exception. These four elements themselves are composed of matter and form, of substance and accidental qualities, such as warmth and cold, state of motion and of rest, and so forth. Consequently the universe, being a combination of many forces, must have a creative power as its cause. Nor can the existence of the world be due to mere chance. Where there is purpose manifested, there must have been wisdom at work. Ink spilled accidentally upon a sheet of paper cannot produce legible writing.
Translations
Besides the Hebrew translations mentioned above, Chovot HaLevavot has been translated into several languages.
Judaeo-Spanish
* Chovot HaLevavot, translated into Judaeo-Spanish by Zaddik ben Joseph Formon before the end of the sixteenth century, was printed at Constantinople, and republished several times (Amsterdam, 1610 by David Pardo in Latin characters; Venice, 1713 in Hebrew characters; Vienna, 1822 by Isaac Bellagrade). Julius Fürst ("Bibliotheca Judaica" i. 78, iii. 67) attributes the translation to Joseph Pardo, rabbi of Amsterdam.
Latin
* Jacob Roman of Constantinople intended to publish the Arabic text with a Latin translation in 1643.
Portuguese
* Amsterdam, 1670, by Samuel b. Isaac Abbas.
German
* Amsterdam, 1716, by Isaac b. Moses . * Fürth, 1765, by Samuel Posen. * Breslau, 1836. * Vienna, 1854, by Mendel Baumgarten. * Vienna, 1856, by Mendel E. Stern.
Italian
* An Italian translation was published in 1847.
English
* Haberman, Daniel. Duties of the Heart. Feldheim Publishers: Jerusalem, New York, 1996. * Mansoor, Menahem. The Book of Direction to the Duties of the Heart. The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization: Oxford, 2004. The Biggest Liar in the world Anton Shammas's first children's book is a winding, twisting tall tale with the flavor of Arabian Nights.
The King of Never-Never Land wishes to wed his daughter to the biggest liar in the world. All the lucky man has to do is spin a yarn that is a fabrication from beginning to end. None of the competing liars is able to get much further than "Once upon a time," which is in itself enough to disqualify several would-be bridegrooms.
One young boy (whose two older brothers have already failed the test) starts his fib with "When my father's grandmother gave birth to my grandfather I was five years old." This seems promising. He goes on with his story without a word of truth: he receives an egg from which emerges a giant chicken with a large fig tree growing on its back. The boys throw a stone to dislodge a grapefruit hanging from the tree and the stone turns into a wonderful city on a hill. He climbs to the city and discovers acres of land which he can turn to his advantage by growing sesame seeds. After becoming the largest sesame seed merchant in the kingdom, he suspects everyone of trying to break into his sesame-filled warehouses and counts his seeds again and again. One seed is missing, stolen by an ant! The boy and the ant tug at the seed until it splits in two and out flows a river of sesame oil.
The big liar becomes an oil baron and turns to growing watermelons instead of seeds (they are easier to count). The odyssey goes on, incorporating an old farmer, a donkey and a cannon. In the end, the boy is left with nothing of his wealth but a donkey's tail, however he is an outstanding liar and he wins the bride.
Anton Shammas tells a fanciful tale with such natural ease that he persuades the reader to believe every word.

All She LovedAt the end of the 1950s, a lonely woman named Cilag is deported from her native Romania as a suspected spy and comes to Israel. Her sole interest, both there and here, is to find someone who may know about her daughter Erika, who disappeared in the horrors of World War II. Cilag pursues this goal obsessively although she knows it is illogical to hope that her daughter is alive.
In warm, luminous Haifa live the only two people she knows: Iser and Lazlo Neimand. Like her, they survived the Holocaust, but unlike her, they have started new families, and Cilag`s arrival clearly threatens the peaceful lives they have managed to create. While Cilag is busy searching for her daughter, Iser`s wife Mary is busy with her own obsession - watching over her daughter Ziva who is not supposed to know anything about her parents` past.
In this moving reconstruction of Israel`s early years, the life stories of the five adults - stories of survival - move between forgetfulness and memory, repression and exposure, between the child that disappeared and the one that is alive.

A loving novel, brimming with compassion and respect, understanding and good will... a book of remembrance written with great care...A flowing narrative.
Haaretz

Noy`s greatest achievement is the way she writes about repressed, controlled pain... In measured sentences and paragraphs that seem about to shoot off the page, she describes how life in Israel, supposedly the calm after the storm, was the start of a difficult new journey... Only at the end do you slowly catch your breath.
Ynet

Noy`s greatness lies in her ability to offer an almost subversive understatement... of the survivors` relation to the frightening memory they refuse to pass on.
Walla

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