Avraham ben Meir ibn Ezra (1089 – c. 1167 CE) was a world-renowned scholar born in Tudela, Spain. He became famous at an early age for both his beautiful poetry and philosophical genius. In 1140, ibn Ezra (also known as Abenezra) left Spain and began a fascinating journey that took him across North Africa, to the Holy Land, back through Europe, Italy, France and England. It was during this time that he wrote most of his famous works, including some of the first Hebrew grammar books, and a commentary on the entire Torah and Tanakh. His commentary contained such depth that subsequently many commentaries were written on ibn Ezra’s commentaries! He is famous for his rationalism and logic; in religious matters, too, sometimes even criticizing sacred texts. Not surprisingly, he was also a scholar of mathematics and science, writing several treatises on astronomy, arithmetic and even a manual for using an astrolabe. He is credited with being among the key figures who introduced Europe to the Indian system of mathematical symbols and decimal fractions (still used to this day). Ibn Ezra’s poetry continues to be recited around the world, in both translations and the original Hebrew and Arabic. Among other titles, he has been called “ibn Ezra the Great” and the “Admirable Doctor”. The lunar crater Abenezra is named after him.
Words of the Week
Words are the pen of the heart; song is the pen of the soul. – Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi
Seymour Schulich (b. 1940) A science and engineering major from Montreal, he made most of his fortune in the oil and mining industries, primarily by inventing a new system of royalty payments. Schulich is often considered Canada’s top investor, as well as Canada’s greatest philanthropist. He recently donated $100 million to fund scholarships for university students through the United Jewish Appeal. This is in addition to $250 million he has already donated over the course of his life to various schools, hospitals and charities. It is therefore not surprising that he is the namesake for many institutions, including York’s Schulich School of Business, Western’s Schulich School of Medicine, Calgary’s Schulich School of Engineering, Dalhousie’s Schulich School of Law, McGill’s Schulich School of Music, Sunnybrook’s Schulich Heart Centre, and Technion’s Schulich Faculty of Chemistry. He has received the Order of Canada.
Words of the Week
Most men worry about their own bellies and other people’s souls, when we all ought to be worried about our own souls and other people’s bellies. – Rabbi Israel Salanter