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MEÏR BEN BARUCH HA-LEVI:

Rabbi at Vienna from 1360 to 1390; a native of Fulda (Isserlein, "Terumat ha-Deshen," 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 through his introduction into Germany of the rabbinical system of ordination. Owing to persecutions, the number of competent rabbis had decreased, and persons unqualified were inducted into rabbinates. To prevent this Meïr issued an order to the effect that no Talmudical student should officiate as rabbi unless he had been ordained and had acquired the title of "morenu" (Isaac b. Sheshet, l.c. Nos. 268-272). At first the order provoked the opposition of many rabbis, who accused Meïr of a desire to rule; but they afterward accepted it. Later Meïr assumed authority over the French rabbis, and sent to France Isaiah b. Abba Mari with authority to appoint rabbis there.

Although Meïr left no work, it appears from Jacob Mölln, who frequently mentions him in his "Minhagim," that he collaborated with his contemporaries Abraham Klausner and Shalom of Neustadt in the compilation of a work on ritual customs. Two "teḥinnot" for the 10th of Adar and the 23d of Iyyar respectively are ascribed to Meïr.

Bibliography:
  • Auerbach, Berit Abraham, Preface, p. 6, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1860;
  • Grätz, Gesch. 3d ed., viii. 10 et seq., 36;
  • Weiss, Dor, v. 169 et seq.;
  • Wolf, Gesch. der Juden in Wien, p. 14, Vienna, 1876.
G. M. Sel.
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