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 Al-Phasi, Isaac

Al-Phasi, Isaac

 Also known as Isaac Al Fasi.

AL-PHASI, ISAAC (1013--1103), Jewish rabbi and codifier, known as Riph, was born near Fez in 1013 and died at Lucena in 1103.  ‘Al-Pinasi means the “man of Fez” (medieval Jews were often named after their birthplaces).  He was forced to leave Fez when an old man of 75, being accused on some unknown political charge.  He then settled in Spain where he was held in much esteem.  His magnanimous character was illustrated by two incidents.  When ‘Al-phasi’s opponent Isaac ‘Albalia died, ‘Al-pinasi received ‘Albalia’s son with the greatest kindness and adopted him as a son.  When, again, ‘Al-phasi was himself on the point of death, he recommended as his successor in the Lucena rabbinate, not his own son, but his pupil Joseph ibn Migash.  The latter became the teacher of Maimonides, and thus ‘Al-phasi’s teaching as well as his work must have directly influenced Maimonides. ‘Al-phasi’s fame rests on his Talmudical Digest called Halakhoth or Decisions. The Talmud was condensed by him with a special view to practical law.  He omitted all the homiletical passages, and also excluded those parts of the Talmud which deal with religious duties practicable only in Palestine. ‘Al-pinasi thus occupies an important place in the development of the Spanish method of studying the Talmud.  In contradistinction to the French rabbis, the Spanish sought to simplify the Talmud and free it from casuistical detail. ‘Al-pinasi succeeded in producing a Digest, which became the object of close study, and led in its turn to the great Codes of Maimonides and of Joseph Qaro.