||A poetic prayer of 1,000 words entitled "Bakkashat ha-Memim," every word of which begins with the letter mem.
R. Jedaiah b. Abraham ha-Penini Bedersi (c. 1270–1340), poet and philosopher. Possibly a native of Beziers, Jedaiah is known to have spent time in Perpignan and Montpellier. Little is known of his personal history. He may have been a physician. Jedaiah's intellectual interests were literary and philosophic, although the two spheres were not clearly separated. In his youth, he composed a poetic prayer of 1,000 words entitled "Bakkashat ha-Memim," every word of which begins with the letter mem (in Olelot ha-Bohen, 1808). He is also credited with a similar composition, every word of which begins with alef, but many believe that this latter poem was written by R. Jedaiah's father. In popular style he composed Ohev Nashim ("In Defense of Women," ed. by A. Neubauer in Jubelschrift... L. Zunz (1884), pt. 1, 138–40; pt. 2, 1–19). His best-known literary work is Sefer Behinat Olam ("The Book of the Examination of the World"), a lyrical, ethical monograph on the theme of the futility and vanity of this world, and the inestimably greater benefits of intellectual and religious pursuits. Behinat Olam, written in florid prose and rich in imagery, combines philosophic doctrine and religious fervor with a good measure of asceticism and pessimism.
Published originally in Mantua between 1476 and 1480, the work has been reprinted numerous times. It has been translated into English (Behinat Olam or An Investigation of... Organization of the World, London, 1806), Latin, French, German, Polish, and Yiddish, and numerous commentaries have been written on it. R. Jedaiah also wrote Sefer ha-Pardes (Constantinople, 1516; reprinted by J. Luzzatto, in Ozar ha-Sifrut, 3 (1889–90), 1–18), which consists of reflections on isolation from the world, divine worship, the behavior of judges, grammar, and astronomy. The last chapters deal with rhetoric and poetry. R. Jedaiah was the author of commentaries on various Midrashim (Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale, Ms. 738; De Rossi, 222), as well as a commentary on Pirkei Avot (Escurial, Ms. G. IV, 3). R. Jedaiah also wrote a number of works which are more strictly scientific and philosophical.