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MEÏR BEN SAMUEL (RaM):

French tosafist; born about 1060 in Ramerupt; died after 1135. His father was an eminent scholar. Meïr received his education in the Talmudical schools of Lorraine, his principal teachers being Isaac ben Asher ha-Levi and Eleazar ben Isaac of Mayence (Pardes, ed. Constantinople, p. 33a; comp. Neubauer in "Monatsschrift," 1887, p. 503), with whom he later carried on a correspondence ("Or Zarua'," ii. 75b; "Sefer ha-'Ittur," ed. Lemberg, i. 52).

Meïr married Rashi's second daughter, Jochebed, by whom he had three sons (Conforte, "Ḳore ha-Dorot," ed. Cassel, p. 14a), Samuel ben Meïr (RaSHBaM), Isaac ben Meïr (RIBaM), and Jacob ben Meïr (Rabbenu Tam), all of them well-known scholars. According to Gross, Meïr had also a fourth son, Solomon. Samuel ben Simḥah of Vitry, father of the tosafist Isaac the Elder, was Meïr's son-in-law. Meïr's son Isaac, the often-quoted tosafist, died in the prime of life, leaving seven children (see Rabbenu Tam, "Sefer ha-Yashar," ed. Vienna, No. 616, p. 72b; ed. Rosenthal, No. 41, p. 71). This loss distressed the father to such an extent that he felt indisposed to answer a halakic question addressed to him by his friend Eleazar ben Nathan of Mayence (ib.).

Meïr attained a very great age, and is sometimes designated as "the old" ("ha-yashish"; ib.; "Sefer Seder ha-Ḳabbalah," in Neubauer, "M. J. C." p. 184; Eliezer b. Nathan, p. 148a). From the fact that his grandson, Isaac ben Samuel, born about 1120, speaks of religious customs which he found conspicuous in his grandfather's house, and from other indications, it has been concluded that Meïr was still alive in 1135.

Meïr was one of the founders of the school of tosafists in northern France. Not only his son and pupil Rabbenu Tam ("Sefer ha-Yashar," ed. Vienna, No. 252, p. 27a), but also the tosafot (Tos. Ket. 103b; Tos. Ḳid. 15b, 59a; Tos. Men. 100a) quote his ritual decisions. It was Meïr ben Samuel who changed the text of the Kol Nidre formula (see "Sefer ha-Yashar," ed. Vienna, No. 144, p. 17a). A running commentary on a whole passage of the Gemara (Men. 12a et seq.), written by him and his son Samuel in the manner of Rashi's commentary, is printed at the end of the first chapter of Menaḥot. Meïr composed also a seliḥah beginning "Abo lefaneka," which has been translated into German by Zunz ("Synagogale Poesie," p. 183), but which has no considerable poetic value (idem, "Literaturgesch." p. 254; Landshuth, "'Ammude ha-'Abodah," p. 168).

Bibliography:
  • Azulai, Shem ha-Gedolim, ed. Wilna, i. 118, No. 11;
  • Grätz, Gesch. vi. 68-144;
  • Gross, Gallia Judaica, pp. 304, 542, 635;
  • D. Rosin, Samuel ben Meïr als Schrifterklärer, in Jahresbericht des Jüdisch-Theologischen Seminars, pp. 3 et seq., Breslau, 1880;
  • Weiss, Dor, iv. 336;
  • idem, Sefer Toledot Gedole Yisrael (Toledot R. Ya'aḳob ben Meïr), p. 4, Vienna, 1883;
  • Zunz, Z. G. p. 31;
  • see also Isaac ben Meïr of Narbonne; Jacob ben Meïr Tam; and Samuel ben Meïr.
G. M. Sc.
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