Copyright
Isidore Singer.

The Jewish encyclopedia : a descriptive record of the history, religion, literature, and customs of the Jewish people from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 8) online

. (page 106 of 169)
Online LibraryIsidore SingerThe Jewish encyclopedia : a descriptive record of the history, religion, literature, and customs of the Jewish people from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 8) → online text (page 106 of 169)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


and Samaritan scholars concerning creation, resur-
rection, and similar subjects.

The later part of Meir's life was saddened by
many misfortunes. In one day he lost two promis-
ing sons, who died suddenly on a Sabbath while he
was at the house of study. A story is related in a
midrash (quoted in Yalk., Prov. 964) of the fortitude
shown on that occasion by Meir's learned wife, Bk-
RURIAH. Controlling her feelings, she withheld the
knowledge of their death from her husband during
the Sabbath in order that the day should not be pro-
faned by weeping and lamentation, and on the con-
clusion of the Sabbath sought to console her husband
with a parable. Shortly after the death of his sons
Meir lost his wife. According to a legend, she com-
mitted suicide after having been dishonored by one
of her husband's pupils (Rashi to 'Ab. Zarah 18a).

The last yeirs of Meirs life were passed in Asia
Minor, He was induced to leave Palestine because
of the conflict that arose between him and the i)atri-
arch. The origin of this conflict was the change in-
troduced by Simeon in the ceremonial of the Sanlie-
drin. ('ustoiii rc(}uired its members

Opposes to rise when the president, the judge,
the or the reader entered the academy.

Patriarch. Simeon, having an exaggerated idea
of his dignity, issued an order that the
assembly should rise as a body only on his own en-
trance, while on the entrance of the judge only the
first row, and on that of the reader only the second
row, should rise. Meir and Nathan (the judge) felt
justly otTended at this new arrangement and deter-
mined to show Simeon's unfitness for his oflUce by
puzzling him with difficult halakic questions which
he would be unable to answer. Informed of this con



435



THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA



Meir

Meir ben Eliakim



spinicy, iSiineou expelled them from tlic baiiliidiiii,
but he could notpreveut them from writing dilHcult
(juestioiis aud distributiug tiiem amoug its mem-
bers. Compelled toreadiint both Nathan and Meir,
he contrived that their names should not be recorded
in the ordinances enacted by him. Nathan sub-
mitted, but Meir continued to embarrass the jia-
triarch by addressing to him ditticult questions.
When, at last, the patriarch threatened exconununi-
cation, heanswered, "I do not care for your sentence
unless you can prove to me on whom, on what
grounds, and imder wliat conditions excommuni-
cation may be imposed." and left the Sanliedrin ( Yer.
M. K. iii. 8la).

Meir died somewhere in Asia Minor. " Bury nu', "
said he to his pupils, "by the shore, that the sea
which washes the land of my fathers may touch al.so
my bones" (Yer. Kil., end). Though during life
Meir had many adversaries, after his death the trib-
ute paid to his virtue and greatness was universal.
"He opened the eyes even of the wise in the Law "
is said of him in the Talmud ('Er. 13b). An amora
said : " The Creator of the world knows that Meir
had not his equal in his time" (if).). K. Jose, in
pronouncing Meir's funeral sermon at Sepphoris
sjiid: "He was a great man and a saint, and was
humble withal " (Yer. Ber. ii. 56b). Of all the Tan-
naim, Meir's name is most widely known among the
jieople. In the house of every pious Jew there is a
money-box hung on the wall in which the inmates
deposit their alms for the poor of Palestine; this box
is called " Meir Ba'al ha-Nes Pushke."

bibliography: Heilprin, Seder ha-Dorot, vol. i.: Blurm-n-
thal. Kahhi Meir, Leben und Wirken, Fninkfort-on-the-
Main, 1H«8; Revson, Tolednt RaJihi Me'ir, Warsaw. 1889;
Meir Bat 'Ayiiu Tunis. 1899 ; Landsbers, in Ha-Zofch, i. 87 :
Gratz, Gesch. iv. 43(); Weiss, 7)or. ii. 133; Bacher, Ag. Tan.
U.2etseq.\ Braunschweiger, £)ic Lehrer der Mishnah, pp.
186 et seq.y Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1903.
J. L Bk.

MEIR (MAESTRO BENDIG) OF ARLES.
See Bendig, MeIk.

MEIR BEN BARUCH HA-LEVI : Rabbi at
Vienna from 1360 to 1390; a native of Fulda (Isser-
lein, "Terumat ha-Deslien," No. 81). His authority
was acknowledged not only throughout Germany,
but even by the Spanish rabbis (Isaac b. Sheshet,
Responsa, No. 278). He acquired great celebrity
throiLgh his introduction into Germany of tiie rab-
binical system of ordination. Owing to persecu-
tions, the number of competent rabbis had decreased,
and persons uncfualified were inducted into rabbin-
ates. To prevent this MeiT issued sin order to the
effect that no Talmudical student should officiate
as rabbi unless he had been ordained and had ac-
quired the title of "morenu" (Isaac b. Sheshet, I.e.
Nos. 268-272). At first the order provoked the op-
position of many rabbis, who accused Meir of a de-
sire to rule; but they afterward accepted it. Later
Mei'r assumed authority over the French rabbis, and
sent to France Is.\iaei b. Abba Mari with authority
to appoint rabbis there.

Although Meir left no work, it appears from
Jacob MoUn, who frequently mentions him in his
"Minhagim," that he collaborated with his contem-
poraries Abraham Klausnerand Shalom of Neustadt
in the compilation of a work on ritual customs.



Two " tehinnot " for the KHh of Adar and the 23d of

lyyar respectively are ascribed to Meir.

BiBi.iocRAPiiv : Anerlia<'h, Berit Aftrnhnin. Preface, p. 6,
Fraiikfort-on-the-Main, 1860; (iratz, Geach. 3d ed., viii. 10 et
.-ffr/., ;jt« ; Weis.s, Dor, v. 169 et yrr/.; Wolf, Grscli. der Jnden
in Wien. p. U, Vienna, 1876.
o. M. Ski,.

MEIR CALW (CALVO ; n^xp) : Biblical com-
mentator; the country and year of his birth arc
unknown. As he cpiotes Levi b. Gershou it may
be assumed that he lived notearlier than the fifteenth
century. Meir Calw was the author of a commen-
tary on the Pentateuch entitled " Minhah Hadashah,"
extracts from which were published by Heidenheim
in one of his editions of the Pentateuch (Rbdelheini,
1818-21).

BiBi.ioaRAPHV : Benjacob, Opar ha-Scfarim, p. '.^3Q; Stein-
tichneider. Cat. Bndl. col. 1695; Furst, Bilil. -Tud. i. 140.

IV M. Ski,.

MEIR OF CLISSON: French Talmudist of
the first half of the thirteenth century. He is men-
tioned in an extract from " Pa"neah Raza " (MS. Hal-
berstam) on Gen. ii. 23 as a Bible commentator.
Gross takes him to be identical with Meir ben Ba-
ruch, who emigrated to Jerusalem in 1211 together
with his brother the tosafist Joseph of Clisson and
many other French rabbis.

Bibliography : Gross, in R. E. J. vl. 128; idem, GaUUiJuda-
iVn, p. 596.
s. s. A. Pe.

MEIR B. DAVID: Grammarian of the last
third of the thirteenth century. He wrote, under the
title " Hassagat ha-Hassagah," a criticism of Ibn Ja-
nah's " Kitabal-Mustalhak." Meir's work is known,
however, only through passages quoted by Profiat
Duran ("Ma'aseh Efod," pp. 116, 173). Joseph ibn
Kaspi, who knew Meir b. David personally, quotes,
in his supercommentary on Ibn Ezra, an explanation
which he heard from Alei'r's lips (see Dukes, "Nahal
Kedumim," p. 9). Meir is probably identical with
the grammarian R. David, whose note on Job vii.
4 is quoted by Abraham Bedersi in his work on
synonyms, "Hotam Toknit " (p. 189; comp. Intro-
duction, p. X.).

T. W. B.

MEIR BEN ELEAZAR (known also as Meir
Lombard [13130^, mUJI^] ha-Darshan) : French
liturgical poet of the first half of the thirteenth een-
tury. He wrote: (1) a series of poems to be recited
on the seventh evening of Passover, some of which
arc arranged in alphabetical order; (2) a dirge be-
ginning "Ziyyon zefiiat pe'er," giving at the end
in an acrostic " Meir Hazak " ; (3) an alphabetical in-
troduction to the Targum of Ex. xiii. 21, a passage
which is read on the seventh day of Passover. The
last-named poem is composed of six strophes, of four
verses each, beginning with "It hazuta we-dugma."
According to Landshuth ("'Ammude ha-'Abodah,''
p. 159), Meir was the author of the dirge beginning
"Ahbirah millin," which is recited on the Ninth of
Ab"; but Zunz ("Literaturgesch." p. 360; Supple-
ment, p. 38) ascribes it to Meir of Rothenburg
(comp. i/>. p. 469).

G. M. Sel.

MEIR BEN ELIAKIM: German liturgist;
probably lived at Posen toward the end of the sev-



Meir ben Elijah
Meir of Rothenburg:



THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA



436



enteenth century; author of " Meir Elohim " (n.p.,
n.d.), a collection of Biblical passages to be recited
on entering tlie synagogue, and ethical directions
for prayer. Mei'r says in this work that he wrote
two "Menorot" containing collections of prayers,
and Steinschneider thinks that the "Menorah"
printed at Prague in 1696 may be one of them.

Bibliography : Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. col. 1697.
J. M. Sel.

ME'IB BEN ELIJAH OF NORWICH : Eng-
lish poet; flourished about 1260 at Norwich. One
long elegiac poem and fifteen smaller ones by him
are found in a Vatican manuscript, from which they
were published by A. Berliner (London, 1887). It
is possible that Meir was a son of Elias Levesque
(Jacobs and Wolf, " Bibl. Anglo-Jud." No. 102; A.
Berliner, in "Hebraische Poesien von Mei'r ben
Eliah aus Norwich," Introduction). J.

MEIR (MOSES MEIR) B. EPHRAIM OF
PADUA: Scribe and printer aj- Mantua; died in
Nov., 1583. After practising various professions he
settled in Mantua as a scribe. He was well versed
in Talmud, and was a friend of Moses Provencal.
There were forty-three of his scrolls among the
Italian communities, the first being completed Oct.
23, 1541; the last was begun April 5, 1582. His
standard scroll, which served as a model for his
other work, was used by the community of Mantua,
where it is still preserved. It contains a long colo-
phon, in which all who gave him commissions and
the dates of the completion of his scrolls are men-
tioned. Foratimehe wrote tefillin also. His method
of writing gave rise to a learned controversy among
the Italian rabbis, which was finally decided in his
favor by R. Meir Katzenellenbogen. He was
the author of a treatise on the "Taggin," and was
likewise active as a teacher of the Bible, his system
of instruction being praised by Abraham Portaleone.
In 1556 he founded a printing establishment at
Mantua, which was continued after his death, doing
good service at a time when the Inquisition was
active and Hebrew books were interdicted. He pub-
lished, among other works,- the first edition of the
Zohar (1558-60), the Mishnah, the Shulhan 'Aruk,
Dei Bossi's"Me'or 'Enayim," the"MishnehTorah,"
and the Talmudic treatises, all these being issued in
handy volumes.

Bibliography : Zunz, Z. O. pp. 252 et seq.; Mortara, Indice,
p. 46 ; and especially D. Kaufmann, In J. Q. R. xi. 266 et seq.;
R. E. J. xxxli. 130 et seq.
J. L E.

MEiR B. GEDALIAH OF LUBLIN. See

LrBLiN, MKlfu 15. Gedai.iaii.
MEIR BEN ISAAC OF ORLEANS : French

liturgical poet and, possibly, Biblical commentator
of the end of the eleventh century. Mei'r and his
son Eleazar are quoted in the commentary to I
Chrou. (x.xi.x. 11) wrongly ascribed to Rashi. He
composed several piyyutim, the best known of
which are "Torah ha-Temimah" (a supplication in-
terspersed with many Aramaic and Talmudic words
and having the gcmeral rimi; in HD. and in which he
expresses his horror of apostasy) and "Almanot
Hayyot," a selihah for Yoin Kippur. Both piyyutim
are signed pin pnV^ "13 1'XD and are acrostics con-



taining the name "Eleazar." The second piyyut
was translated into Germau by Zunz (" S. P." p. 184).
There is a selihah beginning "Mi yodea' yashub,"
referring to a massacre of 3,000 Jews by the Cru-
saders, which, though it is signed |tn pnV' "13 "I^KD
and is an acrostic containing the name " Eleazar," is
supposed by Zunz to have been composed a century
later.

Bibliography: Gross, Gallia Judaica, p. 33; Landshuth,
Ammude ha-'Abodah, p. 167 ; Zunz, Literaturgesch. p. 251.
J. M. Sel.

MEIR B. ISAAC OF TRINQ,UETAILLE :

French scholar of the twelfth century; a member of
the family of Menahem Me'i'ri of Perpignan. He
was a native of Carcassonne, whence his father took
him to Provence, where he soon became one of
the most distinguished pupils of Abraham David
(RaBaD) of Posqui^res. After settling at Trinque-
taille, a suburb of Aries, he composed the following
two works: " Sefer ha-'Ezer," a defense of Alfasi
against the attacks of Zerahiah b. Isaac ha-Levi
Gerondi; "Hibbur ha-Mukzeh," a treatise enumer-
ating all the things that may not be touched on Sab-
baths and feast-days.

Bibliography: Gross, Gallia Judaica, p. 246; Isaac de Lat-
tes, Sha'are ^iuu'>n, p. 72; Meiri, Introduction to tlie Bet
ha-Behirah, p. 17b ; Renan-Neubauer, Les Rabhins Fran-
cais, p'. 515.
J. S. K.

MEIR IBN JAIR: Italian (?) Talmudist and
grammarian of the sixteenth century. His family
name seems to have been "Meiri " ; for he is always
mentioned under the name of " Meir le-Bet Meir "
(= " Me'ir of the house of Me'ir "). He is called " Ibn
Jair " because TK^ }' is written after his name in the
manuscript sources; it may, however, be an
equivalent of "Meir" or may mean "May his light
continue." Meir was the author of: "Ya'ir Na-
tib," or, according to Nepi-Ghirondi ("Toledot
Gedole Yisrael," p. 255), "Meir Natib " (Sabbionetta,
1553), a treatise, on. the law concerning the slaugh-
tering of animalSv frequently^ quoted by Hayyim
Benveniste in his "Keneset ha-Gedolah"; a trea-
tise on the eiglU. conjugatiana, in Hebrew grammar,
under the title " Simane kol Shemonah Binyanim"
(lb. 1 554), a work which was afterward revised by the
author and published under the title of "Dikduk"
{ib. 1597).

Bibliography: Azulai, Shem lia-Gednlim, il., s.v. Ya%r Na-
tib ; Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. col. 1706.
G. M. Sel.

MEIR BEN JOSEPH BEN MERWAN
HA-LEVI: Frencii scholar; flourished at Nar-
bonne in the twelfth century; brother of the nasi R.
Moses ben Joseph ben Merwan, and pupil of Isaac
ben Merwan, head of the Narbonne academy in the
early part of the twelfth century. He was held in
great respect and associated with Abraham ben
Isaac, ab bet din, who presided over the rabbinical
college of Narbonne about 1165. According to the
conjecture of Gross ("Gallia Judaica," p. 414), Meir
ben Joseph is identical with Meir ben Jacob, who is
mentioned, with the rabbinical scholars Todros ben
Moses, Abraham ben Isaac, Moses ben Joseph Me-
shullam ben Nathan, and Moses ben Todros, at the
end of a rabbinical responsum dated at Narbonne in
the middle of the twelfth century.



437



THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA



Meir ben Elijah
Meir of Rothenburgr



Bibliography: Abraham ben David, Siefn- ha-Iyahtinlali ;
Altimatu Chi<inick,p. Si: Temiiii f>e'i;», p. 1~'2; Kul I:<k
No. 120 ; Benjamin Auerbach, Introduction to the Scfir lia
EshkoL P- viii. ^

(4. ^- 1^-

MEIR KADOSH (MEIR BEN JEHIEL
BRODA) : Moravian Talnuulist; born at L'ngariscli-
Brod in 1.j93. He is known for his " Megillat H.
Meir" (Cracow, 1632), in whicli he narrates an ad-
venture which liappened lo liim when he was fifteen
years old, and on account of which lie acquired the
epithet " Kadosh " (= "saint" or " martyr "). In
1608 he left liis native town with eight other stu-
dents in order to attend a yesliil)ah in Poland. On
the way he was kidnaped by the waywode of
Auspitz, who kept him in prison for fifteen weeks,
and endeavored to torture him into accepting Chris-
tianity. Meir remained linn, and was finally ran-
somed by the Jews of Cracow and placed in the
yeshibah of Moses Meisels.

Bibliography : steinschneider. Cat. liodl. cols. 1701-1702.
p. M. Ski..

MEIR HA-KOHEN : French scholar of the
thirteenth century; born at Narbonne; died at To-
ledo, Spain, whither he had emigrated in 1268
(Israeli, " Yesod '01am," ii. 35, ed. Berlin, 1846).
Meir occupied himself particularly with the study
of the Masoiah; and, according to Meuahem Mei'ri
(" Kiryat Sefer "), he was one of the five rabbis who,
by comparing a great number of manuscripts, en-
deavored to establish a correctly revised Pentateuch
for France ami Germany.

Meir's identity has been frequently mistaken:
Bartolocci ("Bibl. Kab. Magna," iv. 20) identifies
him with the author of the " Haggahot Maimu-
niyyot," a German scholar of the end of the thir-
teenth century; Zunz (•' Literaturgesch." p. 283),
confounding him with Moses ha-Kohen of Lunel,
attributes to him the "Hassagot," or strictures on
Maimonides; while Carmoly (" Ha-Karmel," vii.
58) identifies him with Meir Zarfati, the supposed
author of a poem against the "Moreh," beginning
with the words " Anshe ininut " (comp. Steinschnei-
der, "Hebr. Bibl." xiii.). It may be added that S.
Sachs ("Cat. of the Gunzburg Library," p. 46) at-
tributes to Meir ha-Kohen the "Sefer ha-Me'orot,"
which in reality is the work of Meir b. Simeon.

Bibliography: Gross. Gallia Judaica, p. 423; Renan-Neu-
bauer, Les Rabbins FravQais, pp. 731-733.
G. M. Sel.

MEIR BEN LEVI : Austrian Talmudist and
Biblical commentator of the beginning of the eight
eenth century; a native of Zolkiev. Under the
title " Likkute Shoshannim " (Jessnitz, 1722), he com-
piled the comments and novelke of the Geonim on
the Pentateuch and arranged them in the order of
the weekly lessons. Meir afterward revised the
work, and, having added thereto notes of his own,
published it under the new title "JMiksheh Zahab."
From the preface to the second edition (Frankfort-
on-the-Oder, 1733), the first edition seems to have
been printed at Zolkiev (n.d.).

Bibliography: Ben.i'acoh, Oznr ha-Sefariin, p. 369; Stein-
schneider, Cat. Dodl. col. 17114.

M. Sel.



G.

MEIR OF OSTROWO.

Meir b. Zeisi Hirsch.



See Maroomotii,



MEIR OF ROTHENBURG (MEIR B. BA-
RUCH; frequently called in brief J-iUJDnrD D 110
or Olio D"l ni?2) : German tosafist, codifier, and
liturgical poet ; born at Worms about 1215; died in
the fortress of Ensisheiin, Alsace, May 2 (April 27
ol<I style), 1293. He belonged to a family wiiicli was
noted for its scholars; and in his respon.sa he des-
ignates about a dozen Talmudic authorities of his
time as his relatives. The epitaph, still e.xtaut, of
his father, who died (1275) at a very advanced age,
praises the latter's extraordinary piety, eminent
scholarship, brilliant gift of oratory, and great
popularity. It may be assumed, therefore, that
Meir received his earliest instruction from his father,
though his first teacher proper was Isaac b. Moses
of Vienna, under whom, as well as under Samuel b.
Menahem, he studied at Wlirzburg. Meir studied
at the French yeshibot also, his teachers there being
Jehiel b. Joseph of Paris, Samuel b. Solomon of
Falaise, and Samuel of Evreux. On his return to
Germany he quickly gathered around him a band of
devoted pupils, including many married men, who
left their families for a time in order to listen to so
brilliant a teacher.

It is difficult to determine Meir's actual official
position among the German rabbis of his time.
Modern historians maintain that he was chief rabbi
of Germany, elected by the communities and con-
firmed by Emperor Rudolph. It is very doubtful,
however, whether at this time the office of chief rabbi
existed in Germany; and even if it did, there is
nothing to prove that Meir occupied it. The desig-
nations "Chief" (Respousa, ed. Prague, No. 946),
"Father of Rabbis," etc., merely indicate that on
account of his great scholarship he was everywhere
recognized as the spiritual leader, whose decrees
and institutions were considered as authoritative.
As far as is known, he officiated as rabbi in the fol-
lowing communities: Kostnitz, Augsburg, Wurz-
burg, Rolhenburg, Worms, Nuremberg, and Ma-
yence. This order of enumeration is probably
chronological ; but nothing is known of Meir's terms
of office in the different cities. As he is generally
called Meir "of Rothenburg " (Rothenburg-on-the-
Tauber), he probably stayed longest in that city.
Me'ir was well-to-do, perhaps rich; for, according
to his own account, he had in his house at Rothen-
burg separate apartments for winter and summer,
with an airy dining-room, and separate rooms for
each of his pupils.

Meir's decisions in questions of taxation regulated
the financial conditions of the Jewish communities
of Germany. Thus he decided that
Official no member of a community should
Activity, be permitted to negotiate wMth the
authorities in matters of taxation, as
this might be detrimental to the community {ib.
No. 184). When Emperor Rudolph presented Lis
son Albrecht in 1282 with Austria, Styria, and Ca-
rinthia, the communities of those districts refused
to pay their portion of the taxes to the federation
of communities of the empire, on the ground that
they now belonged to a clifferent state. Meir de-
cided that the refusal of the communities to con-
tribute to the general tax fund could be justified
only if the emperor gave up those countries entirely



VLeir of Rothenburg-



THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA



438



without claiming- any part of their revenues (t6. No.
131). Another important decision of .Meir's had
reference to the ransom of Jews, who were fre-
(juently imprisoned at that time for the purpose of
e.Ktortiug money from tliem. He decided that the
ransomed Jews must reimburse the conununity in
every case; and tiiat the latter, in case of need,
was not only justified in taking, but was in duty
bound to take, the property of the prisoners, even
against their will, for ransom. He based his deci-
sion on the ground that in such cases the ransom
was not a ]iiivale matter, but concerned the Jewish
conununities, and that the individual ought there-
fore to be compelled to give up his property for his
release, although he personally might prefer prison
to poverty.

Meir himself was soon to experience what life in
pris(M) meant. His seizure, imprisonment, and sad
death have made too deep an impression on the Jews
to be a matter for doubt; moreover, contemporane-
ous Christian writers confirm the chief incidents of
the story. However, as some highly important
points are not clear, it may be best to give here the
following concise account: " R. MeiT b. Baruch
was about to go abroad with his wife, his daugh-
ters, his sons-in-law, and all his family, and had
proceeded as far as a city in the moiai tains of Lom-
bardy, where he intended to stay until all his trav-
eling companions had gathered about him, when sud-
denly the wicked Bishop of Basel passed through
the city on his journey from Rome, accompanied by
a baptized Jew named Kneppe [NDDJ"'p]- The lat-
ter recognized Meir and informed the bishop, who
brought it about that the lord of that city. Count
Meinhard of Gorz, seized Meir on the fourth of Tam-
muz [= June 28J, 1286, and delivered him to Em-
peror Rudolph, who cast him into prison " (marginal
glosses to folio 85 of the "' Minhagbuch " of Worms,
written in 1025, (juoted by Lewysohn, "Sechzig
Epitaphieu," j). 36; comp. also S. Back, " R. Meir
ben Baruch," pp. 62 et seq.). Neither the object of
his journey nor the actual reason for the imprison-
ment is given in any source; but modern historians
have attempted various explanations.
Supposed The condition of the Jews of Germany
Reasons for was such toward the end of the thir-
Iraprison- teenth century that they were not for
ment. a moment sure of their lives and proji-
erty. Murder, pillage, arson, and ex-
tortion were of daily occurrence. Under these cir-
cumstances many Jews emigrated; and Palestine
especially attracted the fugitives from Germany, as
in that country very favorable conditions obtained
for the Jews during the reign of the Mongolian khan
Argim and his Jewish minister Sa'd al-Daidali. It
is assumed that Meir was leading such a band of
emigrants, and that he was imprisoned by the gov-
ernment in order to put a stop to this movement,
which, if continued, would have materially injured
the imperial treasury.

The account of a young contemporary of Meir,
who was in very close relations with him, seems to
indicate, liowever, that Meir had entirely difTerent
reasons for emigrating. He stiys that the emperor
demanded a great sum of money from the Jews,
which the latter would not or could not \ya\, and



that consequently their leader feared — and justly
so, as the sequel showed — that the emperor would
seize him as a hostage ("Zawwa'at R. Yehudah b.
Asher,"ed. Schechter, in "Bet Talmud," iv. 874).
After his seizure Meir was probably first taken to
Wasserburg (jniait^'ll). a German locality that can
not now be identitied, and then transferred to the
fortress of Ensisheiiu in the district of Colmar, Up-
per Alsace. The Jewish communities of course did
everything to secure the liberation of their greatest
teacher; but the ransom demanded by the govern-
ment — 30,000 marks, according to one report — was
such an exorbitant one that the negotiations dragged.



Online LibraryIsidore SingerThe Jewish encyclopedia : a descriptive record of the history, religion, literature, and customs of the Jewish people from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 8) → online text (page 106 of 169)