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Rabbi Shlomo ibn Gabirol: His Life Print E-mail

Solomon ibn GabirolThe 4th of Iyar is the Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Shlomo ibn Gabirol of Malaga, Spain. He died on April 21,1021.

 

"A wise man's question contains half the answer."

"As long as a word remains unspoken, you are its master; once you utter it, you are its slave."

Little is known of Gabirol's life. His parents died while he was a child. At seventeen years of age he became the friend and protégé of Jekuthiel Hassan. Upon the assasination of the latter as the result of a political conspiracy, Gabirol composed an elegy of more than 200 verses. The death of Rav Hai Gaon also called forth a similar poem. When barely twenty Gabirol wrote Anaḳ, a versified Hebrew grammar, alphabetical and acrostic, consisting of 400 verses divided into ten parts. Of this grammar, ninety-five lines have been preserved bySolomon Parhon. In these Gabirol reproaches his townsmen with their neglect of the Hebrew language.

Gabirol's residence in Zaragoza was embittered by strife. He thought of leaving Spain, but remained and wandered about. He gained another friend and patron in the person of Samuel ibn Nagrhela whose praises he sang. Later an estrangement arose between them, and Naghrela became for a time the butt of Gabirol's bitterest irony. All testimonies agree that Gabirol was comparatively young at the time of his death, which followed years of wandering. The year of his death was probably 1058 or 1059.

A legend concerning the manner of Gabirol's death is related by Ibn Yahya in "Shalshelet ha-Kabbalah." In this legend, a Muslim poet, jealous of Gabirol's poetic gifts, killed him, and buried him beneath the roots of a fig tree. The tree bore fruit abundantly; and the fruit was of extraordinary sweetness. This strange circumstance excited attention; a search was instituted, the remains of the murdered Gabirol were brought to light, and the murderer expiated his crime with his life.

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