SAMUEL HA-LEVI IBN NAGRELA, KNOWN AS HA NAGID, LIVED FROM 993-1056 AD. Raised in Cordoba he became the Prime Minister of the city/ state of Granada, the General-in-Chief of its armies, and the head Rabbi of all of Andalusia. As a General he never lost a war. He wrote and published books on Jewish law and poetry, the latter in both Arabic and Hebrew. He conducted an active correspondence with Jewish communities throughout the Diaspora reaching as far north as England and Ireland and as far east as India and the Khazar Empire. Much of his poetry, some of his legal writings, and a bit of his correspondence has survived. Some of his poetry is included in Jewish prayer books to this day.
Ha Nagid fled from Cordoba, became a scribe, then assistant to the financial vizier of Granada and, by dint of hard work and extraordinary intelligence and skill, rose to positions of real authority. Palace intrigue, the near constant threat of war from neighboring taifa, and never-ending struggles to protect his people dominated his life. He was a moral person forced, by his position and dedication to the welfare of the Jewish community, to participate in immoral activities. His son Joseph, whom he groomed from an early age to succeed him, was intelligent and educated but lacked the ruthlessness, leadership skills, and warrior nature of his father.
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