Ḥamdī, Levi ben Yeshu'ah

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ḤAMDĪ, LEVI BEN YESHU'AH (1861–1930), hymnologist, ḥazzan, and preacher. Ḥamdī was born in *Sanʿa, Yemen, and emigrated to Palestine in 1891; he died in Jerusalem. In Yemen he was a Hebrew teacher, and his ḥeder was renowned for its progressive educational methods. In Jerusalem he became a Torah scribe, and also wrote amulets, charms, and lots. Many came to him believing that he was a man of great powers and a miracle worker. His strange behavior, possibly connected to his chronic illness and the deaths of his children in infancy, included self-mortification and fasts. He even exiled himself to Egypt in order to achieve the remission of his sins. Ḥamdī is generally known as a poet and ḥazzan. As a kabbalist, he thought that the poetry of Yemen was mystical and holy. He assisted A.Z. *Idelsohn in his research into Jewish melodies, and sang many Yemenite melodies for the latter to record. Ḥamdī composed hymns and prayers of supplication on such themes as the exile, the redemption, and Ereẓ Israel. In Yemen, he wrote prayers expressing his yearning for Ereẓ Israel. Koveẓ Shirim, a collection of his hymns and prayers, was published in Jerusalem in 1966.


Idelsohn, in: Reshumot, 1 (1925), 3–68; M.D. Gaon, Yehudei ha-Mizraḥ be-Ereẓ Yisrael, 2 (1938), 257–8; Geshuri, in: Ha-Ẓofeh (1939), no. 270.

[Yehuda Ratzaby]