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Meshullam ben Jacob of Lunel


MESHULLAM BEN JACOB OF LUNEL (12th century), Provençal scholar. A master of halakhah, Meshullam also occupied himself with secular studies. He was a wealthy man and philanthropist, and together with his sons provided for the support and maintenance of the disciples and scholars who flocked to his bet ha-midrash. Benjamin of Tudela describes him and his five sons as being "great and wealthy scholars, Joseph, Isaac, Jacob, Aaron, and Asher the ascetic, who had no concern with worldly matters, but devoted himself to study day and night, fasting and refraining from eating meat, and an outstanding talmudist, together with their brother-in-law Moses" (The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela, ed. by E.N. Adler (1907), 3). Around them there gathered an outstanding group of talmudic scholars and seekers after knowledge, who became known as "the company of Lunel." In consequence *Lunel became famous as an important center of study. Many of them and their disciples were among the great scholars of that generation, including Samuel b. Moses, "the lion of the group," who apparently was head of the bet din, *Abraham b. Isaac of Narbonne, author of Ha-Eshkol, his son-in-law *Abraham b. David of Posquières, and *Samuel b. David. This center even attracted scholars from Spain. As Judah ibn *Tibbon notes, Meshullam was distinguished in fields of study other than Talmud. This was in contrast to Jewish scholars before him in Christian countries, who occupied themselves essentially with the Talmud, either because they regarded it as their sole avocation or because of lack of books on general sciences (which were then written in Arabic). Meshullam sponsored the translation of books on grammar, theology, rhetoric, ethics, and parables (cf. introduction to the Ḥovot ha-Levavot of *Baḥya b. Joseph ibn Paquda, translated by Ibn Tibbon on the instruction of Meshullam). Meshullam himself also composed halakhic works, as well as books on "parables of wisdom and ethics" that are no longer extant. He is known to have written a book called Issur Mashehu, on minute quantities of forbidden foods, mentioned by Solomon b. Abraham *Adret in his novellae to Ḥullin (93b, Jerusalem, 1 (1963), ed. 227). From a fragment of the Issur Mashehu of Abraham b. David of Posquières published by S. Assaf (Sifran shel Rishonim (1935), 185–98) "which I wrote before my teacher Meshullam" it is clear that Abraham b. David wrote it in answer to a work of the same title by Meshullam so as to discuss critically the latter's views. It was recently discovered and published by Y. Kafahin the responsa of the Rabad which he edited (1964, 241ff. no. 207). According to Solomon ibn Verga (in Shevet Yehudah), Meshullam died in 1170, but the date is not certain.


Meshullam b. Moses of Béziers, Sefer ha-Hashlamah le-Seder Nezikin, ed. by J. Lubetzki, 1 (1885), introd., vi; Abraham b. Isaac of Narbonne, Sefer ha-Eshkol, ed. by S. Albeck, 1 (1935), introd., 10; Benedikt, in: Tarbiz, 22 (1950/51), 100f.; S. Assaf, Sifran shel Rishonim (1935), 185f.; I. Twersky, Rabad of Posquières (1962), index.

[Shlomoh Zalman Havlin]

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