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Isaac Abalia

(1035 - ?)

Isaac Albalia was born in Cordoba in 1035. He became an interesting combination of astronomer and talmudist. He was a great religious and secular scholar. He spent huge amounts of money maintaining a magnificent library. Although Moses ibn Ezra called him a “great poet and grand stylist,” few of his poems have survived.

In 1069, the king of Seville made Isaac both court astrologer and chief rabbi. It is not clear how he did as astrologer. However, as rabbi, Isaac succeeded in improving both the status and the security of the Jews of Seville. He began a halachic work explaining difficult passages of the Talmud, but he didn't complete it. Two of his legal responsa were saved over the centuries.

Sources: Reprinted with permission from Gates to Jewish Heritage