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The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia
Karaite flourished in Dar'ah toward the end of the ninth century. He was a grammarian of prominence, as is shown by the title "Medaḳdeḳ" (Grammarian) given to him. Some of his exegetic notes, conceived in the true Karaite spirit, have been preserved. Of his religious poems one fragment only is in existence, and of this the first stanza alone is in print, so that it is difficult to form an opinion regarding the poem. Pinsker assumes that the father of Moses was that Adonim one of whose poems is yet extant ("Liḳḳuṭe Ḳadmoniyyot," p. 138) but this theory can not be accepted without further proof.
Rabbinite mentioned by Maimonides in his collection of responsa, "Pe'er ha-Dor" (No. 19). He emigrated from Maghreb (Spain) to Egypt, where he exchanged his own tefillin for others conforming to the regulations of the Geonim. Steinschneider inclines toward the opinion that he later joined the ranks of the Karaites, and that he is identical with the Moses Dar'i below.
The most prominent among Karaite poets. Concerning the dates of his life and activity the last word has not yet been said. Pinsker, the first to study his collected poems and give detailed information concerning him, places him in about the middle of the ninth century, and holds that Dar'i's "Diwan," according to certain data contained therein, was finished about 843. Steinschneider, Geiger, and Schorr have, for weighty considerations, rejected Pinsker's supposition.
There can be no doubt whatever that Dar'i was familiar with the works of the greater poets, from Gabirol to Abraham ibn Ezra, and that he derived much material from Judah ha-Levi, and not, as Pinsker maintains, that Gabirol, Moses ibn Ezra, Judah ha-Levi, and other Rabbinite poets took Dar'i as their model. Dar'i himself, in the superscriptions to his poems, names pieces by Judah ha-Levi and others that served him as patterns. The earliest date, therefore, that can be assigned to Dar'i is the end of the twelfth century. The date which appears in Dar'i's collection of poems must be regarded as a falsification.
Concerning the life of Dar'i little is known. His ancestors are said to have gone from Jerusalem (the presumptive starting-point of so many old families) to Spain, and from thence to have emigrated to Dar'ah, where Dar'i was born. He took up his abode in Egypt, and there completed the "Diwan." He made visits to Damascus, but his reception there was not cordial. While on his way to Jerusalem he wrote one of his poems. Two of his sons died at an early age his third son, Uri, heads a genealogical table (Pinsker, "Liḳḳuṭe Ḳadmoniyyot," p. 49) extending to the twentieth generation.
Dar'i's poems often contain his name in acrostics the fullest of these is: . It also occurs abbreviated as and which makes it evident that the epithet "rofe" (physician) refers to Dar'i himself. The "Diwan" (collection of poems) consists of two parts: the first part is the work proper, bearing the title "Firdaus Azhar al-Ḳaṣa'id wal-Ash'ar" the second part is in the nature of a supplement. The two parts together contain about five hundred religious and secular poems. By far the greater number are in Hebrew a few are written in Arabic. In some poems the verses are in Hebrew and Arabic alternately. Dar'i was acquainted with all those forms of poetry introduced into Hebrew literature from Spanish-Arabian countries.
In his religious poems—one whole series of which is arranged to correspond to the weekly lessons—he prays for forgiveness of sins, bewails persecutions and hardships, and gives expression to his longings for redemption. Among his secular poems occur several of a satirical character, directed against the "Anshe Mishnah" (followers of the Mishnah, or Rabbinites). There are also nuptial poems and lovesongs, somewhat coarse in conception eulogies and poems on friendship, extravagant in their fervor besides elegies, epigrams, enigmas, etc. He is not wanting even in the affectations and artificialities of form and language peculiar to his models. His imagination often soars to great heights, and he displays great cleverness, especially in his epigrams. His language is fluent, but occasionally he has recourse to poetic license. His productions contain the stereotyped ideas and imageries which his predecessors used, following them even in the matter of linguistic expression in other words, he plagiarizes freely. Of Dar'i's longer poems all that is known is reported by Pinsker.
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Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Dar'i, Moses'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tje/d/dari-moses.html. 1901.
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