Pollegar (Pulgar, Policar), Isaac ben Joseph Ibn

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POLLEGAR (Pulgar, Policar), ISAAC BEN JOSEPH IBN (first half of 14th century), Spanish scholar and philosopher. Pollegar's chief literary work was the Ezer ha-Dat ("Support of Faith"), consisting of five sections, which was published with an English summary by G. Belasco in 1906, while a variant text of the second section was published by E. Ashkenazi in Ta'am Zekenim (1854), 12–19. The purpose of the work was to answer the criticisms of certain schools of thought against Judaism. In the first and main section, the author sets forth the chief principles of Judaism, such as the superiority of Moses and the Torah, the world to come, and the Messiah, and rejects despair over the sufferings of Israel. Combating the apostate *Abner of Burgos, whom he had befriended in his youth, he refutes the latter's Christological interpretation of the aggadah by claiming that the aggadot are not binding and need not be taken literally. The second section consists in large part of a dialogue between an opponent of philosophical studies and someone who believes that philosophical studies should be pursued, and concludes with the author's reconciliation of Judaism and philosophy along Averroistic lines. In the third section, Pollegar opposes the view, usual in medieval Judaism, that human affairs are guided by the influence of the heavenly bodies, and attacks determinist views such as those expounded by Abner of Burgos. Pollegar attempts to solve the problem posed by Abner of the alleged contradiction between human freedom and divine foreknowledge by his theory of the mutual cooperation of the divine and human wills. The source of all action is the divine will. All of man's actions are founded upon the imitation of the divine will by the human. At the moment when human actions are realized, their completion is ordained by the divine will, and at the very same moment they become objects of the human will, which thus imitates the divine will. Since God's foreknowledge and the decision of His will exist within His essence at the same moment, neither precedes man's actions. God's knowledge, however, does not change, since knowledge of particulars originates in His all-embracing knowledge identical with his essence. The fourth section consists of an attack on various kinds of pseudosciences which conflict with true philosophy. This section includes a four-part critique of

(a) the philosophizers who do not really know philosophy yet mock religion,

(b) the kabbalists, criticized for their language, their belief in their tradition and its authority, and their alleged non-monotheism,

(c) those who see nature as an independent force, and

(d) believers in sorcery. In the fifth section Pollegar praises pure intellectual activity which, he states, can only be fully developed in the next world.

Pollegar also composed at least one treatise against astrology, a translation of the third book of Al-Ghazālī's Maqāṣid al-Falāsifa, and a reply to Abner of Burgos known as the Iggeret ha-Ḥarifot ("Epistle of Blasphemies"). He refers to commentaries on Genesis, Psalms, and Ecclesiastes, and also to a work called Musar Banim ("Discipline of Sons"); none of these is extant.


Baer, Spain, index, s.v.Isaac Policar; idem, in: Tarbiz, 27 (1958), 278ff.; Guttman, Philosophies, 205–6; I. Loeb, in: rej, 18 (1889), 63–70; G. Belasco, in: jqr, 17 (1905), 26–56; Zinberg, Sifrut, 2 (1956), 101ff.; Schirmann, Sefarad, 2 (1956), 520–3.

[Frank Talmage]

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Pollegar (Pulgar, Policar), Isaac ben Joseph Ibn

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