Sephardic Tid-Bits: Shmuel Ha Nagid

We Jews are celebrating Simchat Torah in October. There is a wonderful Simchat Torah story that took place on Simchat Torah on September 24, 1038 or 23 Tishrei 4798 or 977 years ago. It was very unusual for a Moslem Caliph to name a Jew as his vizier and Caliph Badis of Granada did just that facing criticism from all over the Moslem world at the time. He had named as his vizier Shmuel Ha Nagid, his long time adviser and army commander. The nearby Kingdom of Almeria 60 miles from Granada was ruled by Caliph Zuhair and his vizier was Ahmad ben Abbas who detested Shmuel personally and the fact that he was a Jew of equal standing as he himself. He did everything in his power to get Caliph Badis to revoke his appointment…even starting a war. Caliph named Shmuel to be the General in charge of the war between Granada and Almeria. Granada won the war and Ahmad ben Abbas was captured and personally killed by the Caliph and his brother. Shmuel considered Abbas the “Haman” of his era and proclaimed to the Jewish people that they should celebrate the “Purim of Granada” in honor of the capture and death of Ahmad ben Abbas, the anti-Semite.