I gave a shiur last night about Rabbi Yitzchak (ben Shlomo) Yisraeli. He is possibly the first Rishon (because he was a contemporary of Rav Saadiah Gaon, so he is really before the era of the Rishonim. He also lived to the age of 100, so he really spanned the transition from Gaonim to Rishonim (832-932).
The reason I have started giving a series on history is not because I know anything about it, but because the Talmud tells us that when we tell over the Torah of someone else their lips move in the grave. In other words, we keep the memory of someone alive through learning about them and what they said. So I have picked a dozen Rishonim that I have never heard of (a couple I hadn't heard about until a few years ago, so that also counts) - people who are never studied in Yeshivot, and have to rely on those outside the Yeshiva to keep them 'alive'.
It is also important for me to understand that Jewish 'hashkafa' has changed radically throughout the ages, based on time, place and temperament of each Rabbi. Unlike halacha, there is no 'psak' or even 'masorah' of hashkafa. Therefore we see that the Aristotelians argued with the Platonists, and they both argued with the Neoplatonists etc.
Yitzchak Yisraeli was one of the most respected philosophers and doctors in the medieval world. His books were still being used 500 years later! He is cited by many authorities, both Jewish and non-Jewish.
So, here is my attempt at casting a bit of light on this unknown (to me) historical figure, his influence and thought. As you will hear from the shiur, neither history nor philosophy are my strong points. If anyone can correct me (or better still - point me in the direction of a book which will explain neoplatonism and the differences between that and Aristoteliansim) I would very much appreciate it.
Here is the shiur:
Here is the audio shiur (and the pdf sheets to download if you want).
Rabbi Yitzchak Yisraeli
(Right click and then 'download as')
Rabbi Yitzchak Yisraeli source sheet