Meir ben Baruch Ha-Levi

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MEIR BEN BARUCH HA-LEVI (d. 1404), German scholar; colleague of Abraham *Klausner. Meir came from Fulda. His chronology is obscure, but it is now generally held that his first rabbinic post was in Erfurt, where Hillel "Ha-Zaken" of Erfurt was his pupil, and that he subsequently became rabbi of Frankfurt, moving to Nuremberg in 1383, and returning two years later to Frankfurt. In 1391 he was imprisoned as a result of a false accusation and upon his release in 1392 became rabbi of Vienna, where he appears to have remained until his death. Meir is frequently mentioned in the works of the leading scholars of his own and the following generation, among them Jacob *Moellin, Judah *Minz, Israel *Isserlein, and Israel *Bruna, who cite his customs and rulings (under the name Maharam Segal or Maharam Sal) regarding them as authoritative. Meir's central role in Jewish life of the 14th century is reflected by the part he played in the celebrated dispute about 1393 between Johanan *Treves and Isaiah b. Abba Mari, the pupil of Johanan's father, Mattathias Treves. When Johanan was appointed to succeed his father as chief rabbi of France, Meir conferred upon Isaiah – who was apparently the greater scholar – the title morenu, which authorized him to assume the chief rabbinate in place of Johanan. This intervention of Meir, a German, in the affairs of the French community, aroused the opposition of many leading scholars, including *Isaac b. Sheshet, who nevertheless refers to Meir with extraordinary respect. This incident has led some scholars to believe that it was Meir who reinstated ordination in Germany, but the view is now regarded as very doubtful.


Breuer, in: Zion, 33 (1968), 15–25, 44f.; Graetz-Rabbinowitz, 6 (1898), 12f., 37–39; A. Hershman, R. Isaac bar Sheshet Perfet and his Times (1943), 203–13; J. Even Shmuel (Kaufman), Yom Tov Lipman Muelhausen (1927), 2f.; Schweinburg-Eibenschitz, in: Neuzeit, 34 (1894), 347ff.; M. Stern, Die Israelitische Bevoelkerung der deutschen Staedte, 3 (1894–96), 325f.; G. Wolf, Geschichte der Juden in Wien (1876), 14.

[Israel Moses Ta-Shma]

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Meir ben Baruch Ha-Levi

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