Rabbeinu Bechaye was born in the year 4740 (980) approximately in Spain in either Saragossa or Cordova. He was also known as R’ Bechaye Hadayan as he served as a Dayan in his town of residence, Saragossa. He is very famous for his monumental ethical work Chovot Halevavot. It was originally written in Arabic and subsequently translated into Hebrew by Reb Yosef Kimchi, the father of the Radak (see entry #6). It was later* translated again by Reb Yehuda ibn Tibon upon the request of Rabbeinu Meshullam of Lunel and Raavad III. There are many commentaries written on this work and it has been translated in many languages in recent times. The book is divided into chapters known as Shearim (gates). A most popular chapter is the Shaar Habitachon. Rabbi Avraham Gurwicz Shlit’’a, the Rosh Yeshiva of Gateshead Yeshiva begins his daily lecture by teaching his students a small piece of this Chapter. This was the custom of the Chasam Sofer in his Yeshiva in Pressburg. He also composed songs and Piyutim.
His father was Rav Yosef and he had a son called Reb Yitzchak Pekuda. He is not to be confused with Rabbeinu Bechaye who wrote the famous commentary on the Chumash; he lived much later and was a Talmid of the Rashba (entry #3).
Reb Yehuda the son of the Rosh, wrote in his will; ‘’Accustom yourselves to learn in the book Chovot Halevavot’’. Similarly, the Maggid of the Bet Yosef told him the same. The Chida writes about him ‘’ he who reads his holy work will see the extent of his holiness; his words are living and everlasting and are a source of great light’’.
He was niftar in the year 4820 (1060) approximately.
*other sources say that actually Reb Yehuda Ibn Tibbon’s translation was first.