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Ibn Alfakhar


IBN ALFAKHAR (Ar. "potter"), distinguished family in Spain, whose members included court physicians and communal leaders. Originally from Granada, most of the family moved to Toledo following the persecutions by the *Almohads in Andalusia during the 12th century. Notable were: abraham abu isḤak ibn alfakhar (d. 1240?), of Toledo, crown-appointed chief rabbi of Castile. Abraham ibn Alfakhar had a profound knowledge of Arabic, including the Koran; his style has been praised by experts. He composed poems in Arabic, including a eulogy of Alfonso viii (1158–1214). Abraham was sent by Alfonso on a diplomatic mission to Abu Yakub, the sultan of the Almohads in Morocco. He was a patron of Hebrew poets; *Judah b. Isaac ha-Levi ibn Shabbetai dedicated his Minḥat Yehudah to him in 1208. Judah *Al-Ḥarizi, who was acquainted with Abraham some ten years later, mentioned him favorably in his Taḥkemoni. With Don Todros *Abulafia, and the support of the authorities, Abraham ibn Alfakhar took active measures to extirpate Karaism, which still had some adherents in Castile. In 1194, he married a daughter of Abba Amr Joseph *Ibn Shoshan. His wife was the sister-in-law of Meir ha-Levi Abulafia who composed the inscription on Abraham's tombstone, most of the text of which is extant. It states that Abraham died on 25 Tevet, 4000 am, but the Hebrew date is open to question. joseph (josi) ibn alfakhar (d. 1195), physician to Alphonso viii of Castile, and known by the honorific title nasi of the Jewish community of the kingdom. In 1178 he was instrumental in persuading the king to suppress the *Karaite community in Castile. Joseph was reputedly betrothed to a daughter of Judah ibn Ezra. Meir ha-Levi Abulafia composed an elegy on his death. His son, judah ibn alfakhar (d. 1235), was physician at the court of Ferdinand iii of Castile. Judah was an opponent of the philosophical works of *Maimonides and lifted the controversy surrounding this subject on to an intellectual and theoretical plane. David *Kimḥi made an unsuccessful attempt to influence Judah and the Toledo community to join forces with the Maimonists. Judah's opinion that it was impossible to reconcile Judaism with philosophy is expressed in three letters written to Kimḥi. solomon ibn alfakhar (don culema; 14th century), mentioned as a tax farmer in Castile, was also appointed by the archbishop of Toledo to serve as rabbi and chief Jewish judge in the Toledo community. At the close of the 1350s he was residing in Seville, and was still a tax farmer on a large scale in 1387.

Several members of the family were tax farmers and held other public offices. One meir was the son-in-law of Meir *Alguades, and his widow was especially esteemed. According to a decision recorded in the communal statutes of Valladolid in 1432 she was exempted from taxes. The sources continue to refer to members of the family until the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492.


Baer, Spain, index; A. Ashkenazi, Ta'am Zekenim (1855), 1–12; Loeb, in: rej, 18 (1889), 62; Steinschneider, in: jqr, 11 (1898/99), 590; I. Davidson, Parody in Jewish Literature (1907), 8, 33 (on Abraham); Cantera-Millás, Inscripciones, 65–67 (on Abraham); Brody, in: ymḤsi, 2 (1936), 7 (on Joseph); J. González, El Reino de Castilla en la época de Alfonso viii, 1 (1960), 135, 660 (on Joseph); Guttmann, Philosophies, index (on Judah); Baer, Urkunden, index (on Meir).

[Zvi Avneri]

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