Bikayam, Meir ben Ḥalifa

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BIKAYAM, MEIR BEN ḤALIFA (d. 1769), kabbalist and crypto-Shabbatean. The family name is rare, and the origin of the family is unknown. Bikayam lived in Smyrna. He studied Kabbalah under Jacob *Wilna, belonged to his circle, and was initiated by him into the "mystery of the Godhead" revealed by *Shabbetai Ẓevi (Ms. 2262, Ben-Zvi Institute). Bikayam received from his teacher the kabbalistic works of Solomon ha-Levi which the latter had received from his father, Benjamin ha-Levi. Some of the most learned and pious of the Smyrna community belonged to his circle. Bikayam was a close friend of Ḥayyim *Abulafia and Isaac ha-Kohen Rappaport, the rabbis of the community. One of the wealthy Jews of the town, Solomon *Ardit, supported him and his circle, and even in his old age (c. 1745) the latter studied Kabbalah under him. The wealthy leader of the Constantinople community, Samuel ha-Levi, and Moses b. Joshua Soncino of Smyrna supported and financed the publication of his books. When he went to Salonika in 1747, Abraham Enriques Miranda and Joseph Enriques Miranda, wealthy men of the community, welcomed him with great honor. There he also taught Shabbatean Kabbalah to a group of devotees and published two of his books. He returned to Smyrna about 1747. His books are all concerned with Kabbalah; his Shabbatean leanings are hinted at, but never explicitly revealed. He wrote the following books: (1) Golel Or, on the doctrine of *gilgul ("transmigration"; Smyrna, 1737); (2) Me'ir la-Areẓ, on the portions of the Pentateuch, according to the principles of Lurianic Kabbalah (Salonika, 1747); (3) Magen Avot, on Pirkei Avot (Salonika, 1748); (4) Me'orei Or, on the Pentateuch, based on Lurianic Kabbalah (Salonika, 1752); (5) Kera Mikreh (Salonika, 1752); (6) Me'ir Bat Ayin, on Ein Ya'akov (Smyrna, 1755). He composed esoteric as well as nonesoteric prayers. His books contain piyyutim on the Redemption which he apparently expected in the year 1740 or before.


A. Freiman (ed.), Inyanei Shabbetai Ẓevi (1912), 145; M. Benayahu, in: Yerushalayim, 4 (1952/53), 203–4.