Meshullam ben Kalonymus

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MESHULLAM BEN KALONYMUS (10th–11th century), rabbi and paytan. Born into a rabbinical family from *Lucca, his grandfather was R. Moses the Elder who was taught by Abu Aaron the secrets of the Kabbalah. Meshullam's father (see *Kalonymus family) was a well-known talmudic scholar and paytan. His teacher was *Solomon b. Judah ha-Bavli. Meshullam himself was a famous talmudist and liturgical poet, often called "the Great." His works include a commentary on Ethics of the Fathers, of which only one extract is extant; responsa, dealing with explanations of talmudic passages and with matrimonial, legal, and ritual matters and including a responsum against the Karaites; and liturgical poems, of which the best known are a composition for the morning service of the Day of Atonement and "Ammiẓ Ko'aḥ," the version of the *Avodah adopted in the Ashkenazi rite. His responsa, apart from their intrinsic value, are important sources of information for the social and economic history of the Jewish communities of pre-Crusade Europe. He is the first author in Europe to mention the commercial law of Ma'arufya. His answers are usually brief and concise, and devoid of argumentation. His decisions are based mainly on the Babylonian Talmud but also refer to the writings of the geonim. Both *Gershom Me'or ha-Golah and *Rashi held Meshullam in high regard. The center of Meshullam's activity is uncertain. Responsa by *Sherira and *Hai Gaon point to Italy as does the title "of Rome" sometimes given him. Later he settled in Mainz where his tombstone was discovered. His works helped to establish Rhineland scholarship and stimulated the development in France and Germany of a powerful poetical tradition.


Rapoport, in: Bikkurei ha-Ittim, 10 (1829), 40–41, 111; 11 (1830), 100; Carmoly, in: Israelitische Annalen, 1 (1839), 222; Schirmann, Italyah, 27–36; Roth, Dark Ages, index; Zunz, Vortraege, 378; Zunz, Lit Poesie, 107; Wiener, in: mgwj, 3 (1854), 236–7; Gross, ibid., 27 (1878), 249–50; Davidson, Oẓar, 4 (1933), 451 (index); Ginzei Schechter, 2 (1929), 194–235, 279–87.

[Yonah David]

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Meshullam ben Kalonymus

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