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Isaac ben Merwan Ha-Levi


ISAAC BEN MERWAN HA-LEVI (11th–12th centuries), Provençal communal leader and halakhist. He headed the bet din and the yeshivah in Narbonne. His father, Merwan, was described as a "man of great piety and rich in material things and good deeds, who applied his wealth for the benefit of his brethren and thus obtained the repeal of several oppressive edicts" (addition to the Sefer ha-Kabbalah of Abraham ibn Daud, Neubauer, Chronicles, 1 (1887), 83). Isaac studied under Judah b. Moses (ha-Darshan of Toulouse?), a pupil of *Gershom b. Judah of Mainz. In a ruling cited by Menahem b. Solomon Meiri (Pes. 42a, Beit ha-Beḥirah al Massekhet Pesaḥim ed. by J. Klein (1964), 142) which bears the signatures of "five scholars of world standing," Isaac's is the first. The five scholars apparently constituted the bet din of Narbonne (B.Z. Benedikt, in Tarbiẓ, 22 (1951), 107). It is not certain whether Isaac left anything in writing; his words are usually quoted as "having been heard," but sometimes it is stated that "he wrote." Some of his statements were cited by his pupil Abraham b. Isaac, the author of the Eshkol; Zerahiah b. Isaac ha-Levi Gerondi in Ha-Ma'or; Joseph b. Migash in Temim De'im, and Moses ha-Kohen in his *hassagot to Maimonides' Mishneh Torah (Shabbat 6:5; S. Atlas, in: huca, 27 (1956), 60), in the Shibbolei ha-Leket (Pt. 1, no. 48 and 51, ed. by S.K. Mirsky (1966), 256, 260), etc. Among his pupils were some of the greatest scholars of Provence in the following generation, Moses the son of his brother Joseph, Moses b. Todros ha-Nasi, and Abraham b. Isaac "Av Bet Din." Joseph studied under him. Isaac left no descendants, and he must have died before 1134, since in that year his brother Joseph lodged a claim in connection with his estate (Isaac ha-Sardi, Sefer ha-Terumot, 14:5, Prague 1605, 26a).


Gross, Gal Jud, 412f.; Z.B. Auerbach (ed.), Abraham b. Isaac of Narbonne, Ha-Eshkol (1968), introd. 9; S. Albeck (ed.), Abraham b. Isaac of Narbonne, Ha-Eshkol, 1 (1935), introd. 3; B.Z. Benedict, in: Tarbiz, 19 (1948), 19, n.7, 22 (1951), 96, n. 109, 107; I. Twersky, Rabad of Posquières (1962), 236, 239.

[Shlomoh Zalman Havlin]

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