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Jewish poetry was always liturgical, meaning it was included in the prayer service, but Jewish poetry was also secular poetry. Jews wrote love poetry, they wrote about war, and the human condition. We have some great Jewish poets. Rabbi Shlomo ibn Gabirol, Rabbi Avraham ibn Ezra and the great poet laureate of the Jewish people Rabbi Yehuda haLevi. We have volumes of their poems and their poems were magnificent and sometimes their poems were really, so to speak, tricks. For instance, there’s one poem that has a thousand words. Each word begins with the Hebrew letter aleph, and the poem makes sense! After a while of studying it you forget that each word begins with the letter aleph. But these things were part of Jewish culture – meter, rhyme. That developed mainly in Spain. The Ashkenazic Jews that lived in France and Germany weren’t into it as much and their poetry doesn’t compare in terms of beauty and breath and subject to that of the Sephardic Jews which lived in Spain. But that’s how poetry, which amongst the Arabic world then was necessary and part of the culture, entered the Jewish life as well.

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