Meir ben Ḥiyya Rofe

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MEIR BEN ḤIYYA ROFE (1610?–1690?), scholar and emissary of Hebron, Palestine. Born in Safed, the son of *Ḥiyya Rofe, Meir was orphaned in boyhood. He studied in Hebron, leaving about 1648 as an emissary to Italy, Holland, and Germany. On his return journey, he stayed for two years in Italy to publish Ma'aseh Ḥiyya (Venice, 1652), his father's talmudic novellae and responsa. In Amsterdam he had influenced the wealthy Abraham Pereira to found a yeshivah in Hebron to be called Ḥesed le-Avraham, of which Meir himself became a scholar. Meir was in Gaza in 1665 when *Nathan of Gaza began to prophecy on the messianism of *Shabbetai Ẓevi. In a subsequent letter to Amsterdam, to Abraham Pereira, he wrote that "Nathan of Gaza is a wise man fit for the divine presence to rest upon him," and urged Pereira to come to Gaza. Pereira reached Venice, but returned to Holland. Meir maintained his belief even after Shabbetai Ẓevi's conversion in 1666. In 1672 Meir left, again as an emissary of Hebron, for Turkey. He stayed for a time in Adrianople, where he was in contact with Shabbetai Ẓevi. On Shabbetai's exile to Albania in 1673, Meir returned to Gaza where he stayed with Nathan and even copied his writings for his own use. He then traveled again to Italy, and from 1675 to 1678 resided in the home of the Shabbatean Abraham *Rovigo. Throughout his stay in Italy Meir did much to encourage those who believed in Shabbetai Ẓevi and spread the writings of Nathan of Gaza. During the last ten years of his life he was recognized as the outstanding scholar of Hebron.


Yaari, Sheluḥei, 160–1, 464–6; Benayahu, in: Sinai, 35 (1954/55), 61–62; idem, in: Yerushalayim, Meḥkerei Ereẓ Yisrael, 5 (1955), 152–6, 176–80, 186; Scholem, Shabbetai Ẓevi, index; Tishby, in: Sefunot, 3–4 (1960), 71–130.

[Avraham Yaari]

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Meir ben Ḥiyya Rofe

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