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Peremyshlyany, Meir ben Aaron Leib of


PEREMYSHLYANY, MEIR BEN AARON LEIB OF (1780?–1850), ḥasidic ẓaddik. He was the grandson of R. Meir of Peremyshlyany, a disciple of *Israel b. Eliezer Ba'al Shem Tov (the Besht), who, according to a later ḥasidic tradition, assisted the Ba'al Shem Tov in his struggle against the *Frankists. R. Meir, who was born in Peremyshlyany, Galicia, was a disciple of Mordecai of Kremenets. In 1813, the year of his father's death, he became rabbi in Peremyshlyany and leader of the ḥasidic community there. As a result of a slander against him, he was compelled to leave for Lipkany, Bessarabia, where he held rabbinical office. This episode is mentioned by his Ḥasidim and in a document of the Austrian authorities of 1827. Meir lived in Lipkany for three years and became involved in a dispute with the Ḥasidim of Abraham Joshua *Heschel of Apta (Opatow). To this may be added the testimony of Abraham (Dov) Baer *Gottlober according to which Meir was always accustomed to live in the border towns, and that he changed his place of residence several times. From Lipkany he returned to Peremyshlyany and in 1843 he moved to Nikolayev, where he lived for the last seven years of his life.

In 1826 Joseph *Perl applied to the Austrian authorities for permission to reprint the Sefer Vikku'aḥ (of Israel *Loebl, 1798). At the end of this volume was a list of ḥasidic leaders, among whom was the name of Meir of Shebsh. Perl changed the name to Meir Shebseir, in accordance with the reading in a manuscript. The Austrian censorship wrongly identified Meir Shebseir with Meir of Peremyshlyany and as a result ordered an enquiry as to whether he and the other ḥasidic rabbis were in opposition to the government, encouraging their followers to disobey the law, but the results of the investigation were negative. In 1839 the police of Lvov submitted to the government an indictment against "miracle-workers," which contained, among others, the name of Meir of Peremyshlyany. The government ordered an investigation, the results of which are unknown.

Meir was on friendly terms with Israel of *Ruzhin, whom he assisted in crossing the border when the latter was persecuted by the authorities, and Solomon b. Judah Aaron *Kluger of Brody, who eulogized Meir upon his death. In Megalleh Temirin by Joseph Perl some of Meir's actions are described with derision, e.g., that he engaged in the healing of the sick and childless women. Meir was accustomed to spend his money freely among the poor, as related by both his Ḥasidim and a maskil, Dr. Solomon Rubin, opposed to Ḥasidism. He was known for his strange behavior, which his Ḥasidim interpreted as being merely external and his opponents as insanity. He gained popularity as a ẓaddik and had many followers. Reports of the miracles which he performed were at first circulated orally and later in print.

Meir made no original contribution to ḥasidic doctrine, nor did he write any halakhic or homiletical works. After his death, however, his followers collected his teachings which were included in various works or handed down from hearsay; among them the following three works in Yiddish: Ma'aseh Nora me-ha-Ẓaddik… R. Meir mi-Peremyshlani, Eyn Emese Mayse fun R. Meir' mi-Peremyshlany, and Shivḥei R. Meir.

They were collected and published in Divrei Me'ir (1909), Or ha-Me'ir (1926), and Margenita de-Rabbi Meir (ed. Margalioth, 1926). A Seder Hakkafot ("Order of the Hakkafot [for Simḥat Torah]," 1891) which he composed was also published.


I. Layfer, Tiferet Maharam (19582); I. Berger, Eser Atarot (1910), 37–56; M.H. Brawer, Zikhronot Av u-Veno (1966), 15–16; M. Ben-Yeḥezkel, Sefer ha-Ma'asiyyot, 1 (19683), 108–13; 2 (19683), 301–3; 4 (19683), 85–87; 5 (19683), 420–4; 6 (19683), 269–72; A.B. Gottlober, Zikhronot mi-Ymei Neuray, in: Ha-Boker Or, 5 (1880), 310; 6 (1881), 162, 168–9, 289; Horodezky, Ḥasidut, index; R. Mahler, Ha-Ḥasidut ve-ha-Haskalah (1961), index; Ch. Shmeruk, in: Zion, 21 (1956), 94.

[Zeev Gries]

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