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    Ben Ezra in the poetry of Browning – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Who was the Rabbi Ben Ezra about whom the English poet Browning wrote?

    A. It was Abraham Ibn Ezra, the 12th century poet, grammarian and Bible commentator.

    Born in Toledo, Spain, in 1092, he visited England in 1158 and called it “an island in the corner of the world” (“Angleterre”). He likened the London fogs to the three days of darkness in Egypt just prior to the Exodus. He possibly visited Oxford, where it is said that three university halls were owned by Jews.

    Despite his intellectual prowess, Ibn Ezra never became affluent; he used to joke, “If I made shrouds people would stop dying; if I sold candles the sun would not set”.

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