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Topic: Chovot Halevavot, Author

Aviva Yocheved Krems wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

I'm studying Chovot Halevavot (Duties of the Heart) with a group of women and we were wondering what the author's background was. He refers to religious and secular life and we were wondering if he lived in a "Jewish ghetto" or amongst religious and non-religious Jews and/or non-Jews? What else can you tell us about him?

Dear Aviva Yocheved Krems,

Chovot Halevavot was written by Rabbeinu Bachya Ibn Pakudah. Rabbeinu Bachya lived in Sargasso, Spain in the eleventh century. As a leading Talmud scholar, he was an expert in ethics and philosophy. He also composed many poems that were introduced into the liturgy. He wrote Chovot Halevavot in Arabic so that it could reach out to the largest possible audience. Aside from the fact that Rabbeinu Bachya served as the Rabbinical Judge of the Jewish community in Sargasso, very little is known of his personal life.

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