Meshullam Phoebus ben Israel Samuel

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MESHULLAM PHOEBUS BEN ISRAEL SAMUEL (1547–1617), Polish rabbi. Meshullam's exact birthplace is unknown. Before becoming av bet din in Cracow, he held a similar position in Brest-Litovsk. It appears that in 1590, while in Brest-Litovsk, he introduced regulations to prevent work being done on the Sabbath. These regulations afford an insight into the economic situation of the Jews of Poland and Lithuania in the 16th and 17th centuries. They were first published in an abbreviated form in Kevod Ḥakhamim (Venice, 1700) by Judah Leib Pohovitz, and then more fully by I. Sonne (see bibliography). Although the year of Meshullam's arrival in Cracow is not certain, his presence there is recorded in 1609, when he gave a ruling as to which haftarah should be recited when the New Moon of Av falls on a Sabbath. While in Cracow, he participated in the meetings of the *Council of Four Lands, and it is possible that even the aforementioned regulations gained the approval of the council. A recognized and respected halakhic authority, Meshullam gave numerous rulings on synagogue customs. The most famous of his disciples was Joel *Sirkes. Meshullam had a wide knowledge of languages other than Hebrew and was well versed in medical matters, as is evident in his responsa on these subjects. Nothing is known of his family and children except that he had two sons: samuel, who became av bet din in Przemysl, and joseph (d. 1648), who was av bet din in Cracow. Meshullam died in Cracow.

Few of his works remain but his responsa are found in contemporary works, including those of *Meir b. Gedaliah of Lublin, in Turei Zahav by *David b. Samuel ha-Levi, and in Bayit Ḥadash by Joel Sirkes. Meshullam's work, Sefer Shemot Gittin, on the names used in bills of divorce, is mentioned by Abraham *Rapaport in his Eitan ha-Ezraḥi. Meshullam also edited responsa by Moses b. Isaac *Mintz from manuscripts in his possession.


J.M. Zunz, Ir ha-Ẓedek (1874), 49–52; Sonne, in: Horeb, 2 (1935), 237–46; Halpern, Pinkas, 22, 63, 456, 483–8; Ben-Sasson, in: Zion, 21 (1956), 183–206; Feldman, ibid., 34 (1969), 90–97; Lewin, in: Sinai, 65 (1969), 109.

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Meshullam Phoebus ben Israel Samuel

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