This panel was compiled by the Conference Program Team from independently submitted paper proposals
Simantov Melamed, is an Iranian Jewish scholar who symbolizes the cultural integration of Iranian Jews into Greater Khorasan, many of whom had been speaking the Iranian language since the 10th century. Melamed, born in the city of Yazd towards the end of the 18th century, is the successor of those Jews who had fled from the forced conversions of the Safavid era (1620-1690s).
Having spent his youth in Herat, serving as a teacher and religious Judge (Dayan), Melamed moved to Mashhad towards the end of his life, where he became the spiritual leader of the Jewish community and his fame reached beyond the borders of Mashhad to Bokhara and other far away communities. The date of his death is uncertain, but it is certain that he was dead by the time of the massacre of Jews in Mashhad in 1839, possibly between 1799 to 1826.
Melamed’s major work Ḥayat al Ruḥ (the Eternity of the Soul), which is approximately 8,000 lines, prose and verse, was edited and published in 1905 in Jerusalem, in Judeo-Persian. A study of his different works, demonstrates that he was a well versed as a writer, poet and translator, with extensive knowledge in Judaism, and religious sources as well as some basic education in general philosophy and Jewish thought.
Ḥayat al Ruḥ, is a compilation of ethical speeches combined with philosophical explanations of Judaic scholars, and verses of poetry or prose in the manner of Iranian literary masters. Having quoted a verse from the Quran as well as many Iranian literary and ethical sources, one can assume that he was familiar with the works of Iranian literary masters like Sa ‘di and Hafez.
The ethical, theological and philosophical parts of the book, as embellished rhythmic, rhymed prose, remind us of the Golestan of Sa ‘di or the writings of Khajeh Abd Allah Ansari, while the verse parts in the form of Ghazal, Qasdieh, couplets and Qta‘a, reflect his Iranian literary sophistication.
Among the Judaic sources, his work directly refers to the works of Maimonides and Bahya Ibn Paquda the Jewish scholar of Saragossa, Spain.
While the mystical theme of Ḥayat al Ruḥ, concentrates on a means to reach the final stage of unification with Eternity, the author’s personal advice and comments, reflect his socio-intellectual status as a Jew and his concern about the gradual reduction of his community’s overall religious identity in the Diaspora.