Meisel, Moses ben Mordecai

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MEISEL, MOSES BEN MORDECAI (c. 1758–c. 1838), Torah scholar and maskil; born in Vilna. In his youth Meisel was one of the disciples closest to the Vilna Gaon *Elijah b. Solomon Zalman. He was familiar with German literature and became deeply interested in the writings of Moses *Mendelssohn. However, he was also in secret contact with R. *Shneur Zalman of Lyady, the founder of the *Chabad movement, and when this became known, he fled to Germany, fearing persecution by the Vilna religious establishment. During the Napoleonic Wars he conferred with the representatives of the French government on several occasions. After acceding to R. Shneur Zalman's request to stop these talks with people close to Napoleon, he was suspected of collaborating with the Russian army and was compelled to flee. He went to Ereẓ Israel but returned to Lithuania after the French defeat. During the early 1820s he went once more to Ereẓ Israel and in his last years was closely associated with Sir Moses *Montefiore. He wrote Shirat Moshe (Shklov, 1788), on the 613 precepts. Meisel died in Hebron.


S. Fuenn, Kiryah Ne'emanah (1860), 246–7; M. Teitelbaum, Ha-Rav mi-Ladi (1910–13), 31, 156–8.

[Arthur Cygielman]

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Meisel, Moses ben Mordecai

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