Meir ben Simeon Ha-Me'ili

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MEIR BEN SIMEON HA-ME'ILI (first half of 13th century), Provençal talmudist and communal leader. Meir's main center of activity was *Narbonne, and he cites many of its customs in his works. His principal teacher was his uncle, *Meshullam b. Moses, and Meir frequently cites him and his customs. He also studied under Nathan b. Meir of Trinquetaille. There are references to his connections with Naḥmanides, another pupil of Nathan b. Meir. Among his other activities, Meir engaged in disputations with Christian eccelesiastics and was one of the chief speakers in a delegation of the Jewish leaders of Narbonne and Capestang who interceded with the cardinal of Narbonne concerning discriminating laws which it was proposed to issue against the Jews. He was spokesman of the community at the court of the emperor, and before ministers and church leaders. According to Gross and Scholem, his work Milḥemet Mitzvah (Ms. Parma, cat. De Rossi (1803) no. 155, only part of which was published; see below) was written between 1230 and 1240. The work itself, however, gives the date 1245, and it seems to contain matters of a still later date (see Gross in: mgwj, 30 (1881), 296). The work contains an account of his disputation with the bishop of Narbonne, a defense of Judaism against the allegations of Christians, explanations of biblical verses dealing with the coming of the Messiah, and a commentary on the *Shema and the 13 divine attributes. Meir also appears in this work as a vehement opponent of a certain circle of kabbalists, to whom he attributes heretical views. Questioning the authenticity of Sefer ha-Bahir, he sharply criticizes its contents, together with other kabbalistic works. These criticisms were included in an "epistle" sent to "our rabbis in every town." His work was also directed against the ideas of some kabbalists based on works which, according to Meir, were forgeries attributed to well-known scholars. At the end of this epistle he gives Meshullam's commendation to his activity.

Only latterly have his works begun to be published, under the title Sefer ha-Me'orot: novellae to (1) tractates Berakhot and Pesaḥim (1964); (2) to Shabbat (1964); (3) Mo'ed Katan and Ḥullin (1964); (4) Eruvin (1967); (5) Yoma, Sukkah, Beẓah, Rosh ha-Shanah, Ta'anit, and Megillah, and the minor tractates (1967). His commentary on the *hoshanot was published in Sefer ha-Mikhtam, edited by A. Sofer (1959). The Milḥemet Mitzvah contains five sections (504 columns) and a fragment of it was published by G. Scholem (bibl.) and the end of section four with part of section five in Sefer ha-Me'orot, volume one. Also known are his novellae to the order Kodashim (mentioned by Bezalel Askenazi in Kelalei ha-Talmud no. 37; A. Marx, in: Festschrift … D. Hoffmann (1914), Heb. pt. 181); Me'or Torah, a commentary on the weekly portions of the Pentateuch; sermons (for Passover, the New Year, and Tabernacles in the manner of the sermons of Abraham b. David and Naḥmanides); and a pamphlet called Meshiv Nefesh defending Maimonides' Hilkhot Yesodei ha-Torah in his Mishneh Torah against his critics.


Renan, Rabbins, 558–62; Neubauer, in: Israelitische Letterbode, 3 (1877–78), 20f.; idem, in: rej, 10 (1885), 98f.; idem, in: jqr, 4 (1892), 358; H. Gross, in: mgwj, 30 (1881), 295–305, 444–52, 554–69; Gross, Gal Jud, 423–25; Meshullam b. Moses, Sefer ha-Hashlamah le-Seder Nezikim, ed. by J. Lubetzky, 1 (1885), introd. 5 n. 2, 14; idem, Sefer ha-Hashlamah al Massekhet Berakhot, ed. by M. Schochor (1892), introd. by H. Brody, 14; J. Lubetzky, Bidkei Battim (1896), introd. 9, 12, 14f., 22f.; G. Scholem, in: Sefer Bialik (1934), 146–50; M.Y. Blau (ed.), Sefer ha-Me'orot le-Rabbenu Meir b. R. Shimon … ve-Sefer ha-Hashlamah le … Meshullam b. R. Moshe … al Massekhtot Berakhot u-Fesaḥim (1964), introd; Dinur, Golah, 1 pt. 1 (n.d.2), 136f., 180 n. 35; 2 pt. 1 (19652), 290 n. 35, 291 no. 44; 2 pt. 3 (19682), 168–70, 339 n. 119; S. Stein, in: jjs, 10 (1960), 45–63.

[Shlomoh Zalman Havlin]

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Meir ben Simeon Ha-Me'ili

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