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Meir Ba'al Ha-Nes, Tomb of

MEIR BA'AL HA-NES, TOMB OF

MEIR BA'AL HA-NES, TOMB OF , a building on the shores of Lake Kinneret. According to R. Moses *Basola "people gathered there for prayer morning and night, stating that it was the tomb of one called R. Meir who took a vow that he would not lie down until the Messiah came, and was buried there in an upright position." At present it is a large building consisting of two battei midrash (one for Ashkenazim and one for Sephardim) covering the tomb. Some scholars connect the grave with the tanna*Meir, who established his school in Tiberias (tj, Ḥag. 2:1) and has a miracle related about him (Av. Zar. 18a/b). There are however different traditions about his place of burial, as he died in Esia, an area near Ezion Geber, close to Eilat, and said "Place my bier (ʿarsi) on the sea shore" (tj, Kil. 9:4, 32c). In the 13th century the tomb was connected with R. Meir Kaẓin, or Meir b. Jacob who immigrated to Ereẓ Israel with Jehiel of Paris (see Vilnay in bibl.). The name of Meir b. Isaac, author of *Akdamut for Shavuot, has also been connected with it (Oẓar Yisrael). It is customary to arrange a great celebration at his grave on the 14th of Iyyar (Second Passover) which is comparable to the one in *Meron on Lag ba-Omer. These celebrations began in 1867. The tomb was exceptionally well publicized in the Diaspora by the emissaries of Ereẓ Israel, as well as in their emissarial iggerot (letters). Beginning with the 18th century a Meir Ba'al ha-Nes box was found in almost every Jewish home, and housewives dropped small change into it just before kindling the Sabbath lights. Due to the miraculous deeds connected with the tomb, it was customary to contribute money, candles, or oil for lighting as a specific protection against all kinds of ailments and dangers; it was also done in the hope of finding something lost, of having children, or of driving away evil thoughts. It is clear, however, that the box also symbolized the longing for Ereẓ Israel (for the way in which the money was distributed, see Vilnay in bibl.). Craftsmen created art objects connected with Meir Ba'al ha-Nes. In spite of the opposition on the part of both rabbis and maskilim to the celebration and the boxes, the practice still continues.

bibliography:

Kerem Ḥemed, 2 (1836), 16–39; Yerushalayim, ed. by A.M. Luncz, 1 (1880/81), 48f., 102–4; Va-Titpallel Ḥannah, 2 (1890); I. Ben-Zvi (ed.), Masot Ereẓ Yisrael le-Rabbi Moshe Bassola (1938), 75; Yaari, Sheluhei, 927 (index); J. Braslavski, Ha-Yadata et-ha-Areẓ, 1 (19556), 88, 90, 286; Z. Vilnay, Maẓẓevot Kodesh be-Ereẓ Yisrael (19632), 315–24; M. Ish-Shalom, Kivrei Avot (1948), 186–9; S.H. Kook, Iyyunim u-Meḥkarim, 2 (1963), 101–95. add. bibliography: Z. Ilan, Kivrei Ẓaddikim be-Ereẓ Israel (1997).

[Meir Havazelet]

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