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LUBLIN, MEÏR BEN GEDALIAH (MaHaRaM):

(Redirected from MEÏR B. GEDALIAH OF LUBLIN.)

Polish rabbi; born at Lublin (?) 1558; died there May 3, 1616. He was descended from a family of rabbis, and he speaks of his father as being an eminent Talmudist (Maharam, Responsa, No. 1). His principal teacher was his father-in-law, Isaac ha-Kohen Shapiro, rabbi of Cracow (ib. No. 105), and he distinguished himself so highly in the knowledge of the Talmud and Poseḳim that in 1587, when he was not yet thirty years old, he was invited to the rabbinate of Cracow. Up to that time he seems to have lived in Lublin; for in one of his responsa (No. 138), which bears neither date nor place, he writes, "all my tools [i.e., books] are still at Lublin." According to Lewinstein ("Ha-Goren," i. 41-43), Lublin was from 1582 onward chief rabbi of Lublin, at the same time that Simon Wolf Auerbach was head of the yeshibah there (but see Auerbach, Simon [Ze'eb] Wolf). Owing to continual quarrels between the pupils of these two Talmudists, Lublin was ordered to leave the town.

It can not be said with certainty how long he remained at Cracow, as there is only one (undated) responsum (No. 50) which he wrote while holding that rabbinate. It seems certain, however, that he left Cracow after 1591 in order to become rabbi at Lemberg, a position which he held till 1613. In Lemberg he was engaged in continual controversies with Joshua Falk, author of "Me'irat 'Enayim"; particularly a bill of divorce issued by the latter at Vienna occasioned lengthy discussions between them (Maharam, Responsa, Nos. 123 et seq.; see also Falk, Joshua ben Alexander ha-Kohen). Lublin speaks in his responsa (Nos. 68, 102-103) of a fire (referring to the fire of Lemberg) in which his work "Seder Giṭṭin" was burned.

Leaves Lemberg.

According to a tradition, Lublin was forced by the authorities of Lemberg, at the instigation of Abraham Schrenzel, to leave the town. The latter thus avenged his teacher, Joshua Falk, who had been insulted by Lublin. At this time (1613) the community of Lublin being in want of a rabbi, Meïr accepted the rabbinate, and he continued to hold it till his death. Wherever he settled Lublin organized a yeshibah, of which he was the head; and owing to his renown as a Talmudic scholar and casuist, the number of his pupils was considerable. Among them were Joshua Höschel of Cracow, author of "Maginne Shelomoh." and Isaiah Horowitz, author of "Shene Luḥot ha-Berit," besides many others who became prominent rabbis or heads of yeshibot. Hetook special interest in his yeshibah, and often he signed his responsa "the one who is much occupied with his pupils" (Responsa, Nos. 80, 81, et passim). He was consulted by rabbis even from Italy and Turkey. (ib. Nos. 12, 13, 21, 89).

Works.

His printed works are: (1) "Meïr 'Ene Ḥakamim" (Venice, 1619), novellæ forming a casuistic commentary on the Talmud, Rashi, and Tosafot; published by his son Gedaliah. It has since been republished several times, and is now printed in all the principal editions of the Talmud under the heading "Maharam." (2) "Manhir 'Ene Ḥakamim" (ib. 1619), a collection of 140 responsa, published by his son Gedaliah, who in collaboration with his brother Isaac added a preface. His unpublished works include: "Ma'or ha-Gadol," a commentary on the four Ṭurim; "Ma'or ha-Ḳaṭon," a commentary on the "Sha'are Dura"; "Ner Miẓwah," a commentary on the "Sefer Miẓwot Gadol"; "Torah Or," a homiletic commentary on the Pentateuch; "Or Shib'at ha-Yamim," a collection, apparently unfinished, of orally transmitted laws.

The method employed by Lublin in his commentary on the Talmud was the opposite of that adopted by him when lecturing to his pupils in the yeshibah. In the latter case, as is usual with great casuists, he explained the passages of the Talmud, of Rashi, or of the Tosafot at great length, or, as he expressed himself, "by profound pilpul" (Maharam on 'Ab. Zarah 22a; Ḥul. 2b; Niddah 2b). But in his commentary or novellæ he for the most part adopted a short and simple explanation, giving as his reason for not expounding a passage at greater length that he did not wish to dwell on it too long (Ḥull. 9b, 81b). In certain cases where he employed pilpul, he justified himself by saying that he was obliged to do so as the students might otherwise interpret the passage wrongly (Shab. 48a), or because he wished to sharpen their minds (ib. 20a). He showed a great tendency to correct the text of the Talmud (comp. Maharam on Giṭ. 5, 6; Yeb. 59 et passim).

Method of Interpretation.

Being a fearless critic, Lublin did not spare even the Tosafists when their expressions seemed to him obscure (Maharam on Suk. 10; Beẓah 7). He was generally dogmatic both in his novellæ and in his responsa; he declared on several occasions that his interpretation was the right one and that the passage could not be rendered otherwise (Maharam on Shab. 67 et passim). He often attacked Solomon Luria and Samuel Edels, saying that their interpretations were erroneous and might mislead students (Shab. 58b; Ḥul. 28a et passim). In his responsa he took for his basis the Aḥaronim, whom he declared to be of greater authority than the Tosafists, Maimonides, or Mordecai b. Hillel (Responsa, Nos. 114, 133, 137). He violently attacked Joseph Caro's Shulḥan 'Aruk, declaring that it was a mixture of laws from different authorities and having no connection with one another (ib. No. 11; Isserles, Responsa, No. 135). Lublin paid little heed to the Cabala, though it is evident from his responsum No. 34 that he believed in the sacredness of the Zohar.

Bibliography:
  • Buber, Anshe Shem, pp. 132-133;
  • Grätz, Gesch. 3d ed., x. 53-54;
  • Horodetzki, in Ha-Goren, i. 55-61;
  • Lewinstein, ib. pp. 39-54;
  • Nissenbaum, Le-Ḳorot ha-Yehudim be-Lublin, pp. 31-34, Lublin, 1899;
  • Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. col. 1705;
  • J. M. Zunz, 'Ir ha-Ẓedeḳ, pp. 28-42.
S. S. M. Sel.
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