Sephardic Tid-Bits: Hasdai ibn Shaprut

Sephardic Tid-Bits


Meet Hasdai ibn Shaprut (915-970). He was the son of Issac ben Ezra ibn Shaprut who was a member of a prominent family in Jaen, Spain (between Cordoba and Granada).  Isaac was wealthy, religious, and well educated. Isaac had moved his family to Cordoba before Hasdai was born in order to take advantage of economic and intellectual advantages that existed there. Isaac made a name for himself in Cordoba. He was a great benefactor of scholars and writers who devoted their lives to the Torah and literature. He was philanthropic and endowed a synagogue there.


Isaac’s son Hasdai was born in Cordoba in 915. He was given the best of schooling. He was taught scriptures and other traditional subjects. Although Hasdai was bright he did not excel in them. His strength was in languages: Arabic, Latin, and Romance ( a dialect of Latin to become Spanish). His real interest was also in medicine. His teachers of medicine were outstanding Arab doctors.


Before long Hasdai achieved great fame as a doctor in Cordoba. His fame even grew more when he rediscovered a “miracle” drug that had been lost over a long period of time. This drug was “Theriaca”. It seemed to cure everything. It was this rediscovery that brought Hasdai to the attention of Caliph Abd ar- Rahman III who invited him to the royal court. Hasdai became part of the medical staff in the palace that treated the caliph and his family.




Hasdai ibn Shaprut
915-970