" ... AND KNOW WHAT TO RESPOND TO A HERETIC " THE POSITION OF RABBI ISRAEL ISRAELI OF TOLEDO Nahem Han Israel Israeli was one of the most renowned scholars of his time — late 1 3 th y 14 th century — in Toledo . Until now , no systematic study of his writings has been undertaken . This essay is devoted to R . Israel ' s discussion of Rabbi Elazar ' s opinion in Tractate Avot ( 2 : 19 ) : " ... and know what to respond to a heretic" . In his Arabic commentary on this Tractate , R . Israel explains the urgency of responding to the heretic along with the dangers involved in entering into a debate with such a person . He then discusses the exact meaning of the term "heretic" and the suitable characteristics of those entering into such a polemic . R . Israel debates the development of philosophical study since the Geonic period , arguing that under the new circumstances that had arisen , such study was a religious duty ! At the end of his extended deliberation ( more than five pages long ) ...  אל הספר
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