Sephardic Tid-Bits: Hasdai ibn Shaprut Finale

Sephardic Tid-Bits

This is the final Tid-Bit about Hasdai ibn Shaprut the physician, Customs Inspector, and Foreign Affairs Advisor to Caliph Abd ar- Rahman III ruler of Cordoba and surrounding territories. In about 960 Hasdai tired of living in the Moslem world, notwithstanding his success. He wanted to live among Jews. Travelers who came to Cordoba from all over the world told him of places they heard of where many Jews lived without harassment and prejudice. One of these places was the Jewish Kingdom of the Khazars. He heard this from other travelers but could not believe there was such a kingdom. 

In 960 he decided to write a letter to its king who he believed was King Joseph. He used his world wide connections to get the letter to him. Hasdai told King Joseph that he was Jewish and held important posts in Cordoba. He said he had heard that Khazars were a Jewish Kingdom and he found that hard to believe. He asked if this was true and to please tell him the history of the Khazars.

It turned out King Joseph was delighted to get the letter and responded with the help of other world leaders. In his response King Joseph told him the history of the Khazars. That they originated in and around Turkey in the 200’s; That they were a war-like tribe and won many battles over the years. By the 700’s they decided they had enough territory and wanted to become more peaceful. 

They invited Christian, Moslem and Jewish scholars to tell them about their respective religions. In the end they decided to choose Judaism as their religion. As a result they prospered and now have many Jewish scholars of their own. 

The final paragraph of his letter reads: “You mention in your letter that you yearn to see my face. I also would very much like to see your pleasant countenance and the rare beauty of your wisdom and greatness. I look forward to that honor. Farewell! "