Cedars of Lebanon: Six Poems from the “Mahberoth”
IMMANUEL BEN SOLOMON of Rome, called Manoello, the greatest Hebrew poet of medieval Italy, was born in Rome, about 1270. For a time, he served as a dignitary in the Rome Jewish community; but his restlessness, and possibly the displeasure of the Italian baale batim (“pillars of the community”) with the eroticism of his verse, led him through Perugia, Camerino, Verona, and Fermo before his death sometime after 1328. Way stations for his scholarship were a Hebrew grammar and commentaries on all the books of the Bible. But scholarship and restlessness alike found a more enduring place in Immanuel’s masterpiece, his poetic work the Mahberoth (“Compositions”), a collection of his poems, short stories, treatises, meditations, and the like.
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