Haviva Pedaya, a poet and scholar, is an excellent cartographer of the soul. Her two books of poetry lead their readers through the depths of love, pain and faith.
Haviva Pedaya was born in Jerusalem and studied at the Hebrew University and the Jerusalem School for Visual Theatre. She is the scion of a dynasty of respected Torah and Kabbalah scholars, one of the central pillars of Iraqi Sephardic cultural heritage. Pedaya works as a professor at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev where her research covers Jewish mysticism from Hekhalot literature, a conglomeration of Jewish esoteric and revelatory texts produced sometime between late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, up to Ba‘al Shem Tov, the founder of Hassidism in the 18th century. She addresses fundamental questions of religious experience such as text and exegesis, revelation, and hearing and seeing.
Haviva Pedaya recently established the “Ha-Yona” Ensemble for Mystical and Liturgical Jewish Music of the Sharq [East], and she serves as its musical director. She also gives courses in Judaism to artists involved in music and theater and seeking to bring Judaism and art into closer contact with one another.
Pedaya’s poetry has its roots in the tradition of the many of the Hebrew poets who preceded her, and its strength and originality are derived from a unique combination: a thorough knowledge of Jewish tradition and a sincere and fearless presentation of the poet’s inner world. Faith and doubt, love and loss, desire and rejection are all present in the two books Pedaya has published so far. Her first book won the Israeli Publisher’s Association’s Bernstein Prize for Poetry, and the second book the Israeli President’s Prize for Literature. Haviva Pedaya’s rich and complex Hebrew makes the translation of her poetry to other languages an extremely difficult task for potential translators, but sharing Pedaya’s life experience and conceptions of beauty by reading her poems is a highly rewarding spiritual adventure.
one who speaks to the absent
when I come from the Place of Crying
like the tearing of firmaments from their firmament
the body’s trapped pen quill
please with gentleness
Also on this site
The Torments of Love: PIW editor Rami Saari on the search for God and love in Haviva Pedaya’s first book
Talking to the Living Walls: PIW editor Rami Saari on Haviva Pedaya’s ‘one who speaks to the absent’
Mi-teva stuma (From a Sealed Ark), Am Oved, 2002
Motza ha-nefesh (The Birthing of the Anima), Am Oved, 1996
A poem by Haviva Pedaya translated by Howard (Tzvi) Cohen and an article by Cohen on the poem and its translation
Modern Hebrew Literature - a Bio-Bibliographical Lexicon
A page dedicated to Haviva Pedaya and her publications