Poppers, Meir ben Judah Loeb Ha-Kohen

views updated


POPPERS, MEIR BEN JUDAH LOEB HA-KOHEN (d. 1662), kabbalist of Ashkenazi descent who was active in Jerusalem after 1640. A pupil of Jacob Ẓemaḥ, he became the last editor of the Lurianic writings. He divided the mass of Vital's different versions of Luria's teachings into three parts, Derekh Eẓ Ḥayyim, Peri Eẓ Ḥayyim, and Nof Eẓ Ḥayyim. Poppers' version became the one in most widespread use in Poland and Germany. After 1640 he composed a large number of his own kabbalistical writings in the vein of Lurianic Kabbalah. They are said to have comprised 39 books, each of which contained the word or ("light") in its title, the entire corpus being called Kokhevei Or.

Several parts have been preserved (Ms. Jerusalem no. 101, Ms. R. Alter of Gur no. 170). They included commentaries on Sefer Bahir, on Naḥmanides' Torah commentary, on the Zohar, and on Luria's writings according to his own edition (Ms. Jerusalem no. 102). In the latter manuscript Poppers reports that he had studied Luria's writings for 17 years. Only two of these books have been published: Or Ẓaddikim (Hamburg, 1690), written in Jerusalem in 1643, and later incorporated in Moses *Katz's compilation, Or ha-Yashar (Amsterdam, 1709); and Me'orei Or, a dictionary of kabbalistic symbolism, published with copious notes by Jacob Vilna and Nathan Neta Mannheim under the title Me'orot Natan (Frankfurt, 1709). In addition, Mesillot Ḥokhmah, a booklet summarizing Lurianic metaphysics in 32 paragraphs, later published under Poppers' name (Shklov, 1785), was first printed anonymously (Wandsbeck, c. 1700). Poppers is credited with the authorship of a graphic description and summary of the Lurianic system, in the form of a scroll, published under the title Ilan ha-Gadol (1864). This tree, however, shows the distinct influence of Israel *Sarug's version of Lurianism, which is not to be found in Poppers' other writings. Part of his homilies on the Torah were published as Tal Orot (1911).

He mentions as his teachers one R. Israel Ashkenazi and his father-in-law, Azariah Ze'evi (probably from Hebron). During the 1650s Poppers spent about two years in Constantinople. He died in Jerusalem.


Azulai, 1 (1852), 120 no. 27; Frumkin-Rivlin, 2 (1928), 38–39; G. Scholem, Kitvei Yad be-Kabbalah (1930), 146–9.

[Gershom Scholem]