Arama, Meir ben Isaac

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ARAMA, MEIR BEN ISAAC (1460?–c. 1545), Spanish rabbi, biblical commentator, and philosopher. Born in Saragossa, Arama left Spain, together with his father Isaac *Arama, at the time of the expulsion (1492), and went to Naples. He remained there until compelled to move in 1495 when the French conquered the city, and later that year finally settled in Salonika, where he was appointed rabbi and preacher of the émigré Aragonian congregation. Although the many halakhic decisions he wrote as congregational rabbi and dayyan were not preserved, some are mentioned in the works of contemporaries. Arama wrote (1) Urim ve-Tummim, a commentary on Isaiah and Jeremiah (Venice, 1603); (2) Me'ir Iyyov, a commentary on Job, written in 1506 (Salonika, 1517); (3) Me'ir Tehillot, on Psalms, written in 1512 (Venice, 1590); (4) a commentary on the Song of Songs, published in Likkutei Shoshannim by Isaac Gershon (1602); and (5) a commentary on Esther, incorrectly attributed to his father, published together with his father's Akedat Yiẓḥak (Venice, 1573). Arama also wrote a letter accusing Isaac *Abrabanel of plagiarizing the works of his father (published in Ha-Maggid, 1858), and in which he testifies that Abrabanel visited his father's house in Naples and copied his writings. An anthology of aphorisms, Imrei Kadosh – Zikkukin di-Nurim (1894), has been attributed to him. Arama's commentaries, in common with those of his father, are written in the form of philosophical allegories, although he opposed the study of philosophy. Moses *Almosnino was on close terms with him and cites his opinions, as does Solomon ha-Levi *Alkabeẓ. His son, Jacob, was a dayyan in Salonika. Compendia of biblical commentaries compiled by the 16th-century Turkish scholars, such as that of Joseph *Taitaẓak, include many of Arama's commentaries, which are signed "R.M.A." or "ha-Meiri" (Jewish Theological Seminary Ms. 740/157, Bodleian Library Ms. 969, et al.).


Conforte, Kore, 30a, 32a, 33b; Sonne, in: ks, 7 (1930/31), 168 ff.; A. Tauber, Meḥkarim Bibliografiyyim (1932), 83 ff.; Rosanes, Togarmah, 2 (1938), 17 ff.; Rivkind, in: Sefer Yovel… A. Marx (1950), 426 ff.; B. Netanyahu, Don Isaac Abrabanel (1953), 295 ff.; S. Heller-Wilensky, Rabbi Yiẓḥak Arama u-Mishnato ha-Filosofit (1956), 28, 32 ff., 51 ff.; I.S. Emmanuel, Maẓẓevot Saloniki (1963), 39 ff., 191 ff.