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ASHER B. MESHULLAM:

Talmudist; flourished at Lunel in the second half of the twelfth century. He was a son of the well-known scholar Meshullam ben Jacob, and a pupil of Joseph ibn Plat and Abraham b. David of Posquières, whose ascctic tendencies he shared. Benjamin of Tudela, in the first part of his "Travels," says that Asher lived in complete seclusion, wholly devoted to the study of the Torah, and that he never tasted meat. At the same time Asher was not hostile to philosophy. Judah ibn Tibbon, in a letter to Asher, praised his fondness for science, and in his testament exhorted his son to cultivate Asher's friendship. Asher's alleged leaning toward the Cabala, mentioned by Graetz, is not proved; the fact that he was responsible for the translation of Gabirol's "Tiḳḳun Midot ha-Nefesh" is no proof for or against his cabalistic leanings. The cabalists had a strong leaning toward Gabirol's mysticism; and, after all, the above-mentioned work of Gabirol is moral, rather than strictly philosophical, in its tendencies.

Asher was the author of several Talmudic works, of which the following are cited by title: "Hilkot Yom-Ṭob," rules for the holidays; "Sefer ha-Matanot," a work referring perhaps to the tithes payable to the priests. Neither of these writings seems to have been preserved. According to an entry in the manuscript of the small "Midrash 'Aseret ha-Dibberot," Asher was its author, but the statement is not verifiable. Compare Midrashim, Minor.

Bibliography:
  • Azulai, Shem ha-Gedolim, ed. Wilna, p. 34;
  • Grätz, Gesch. der Juden, 3d ed., vi. 203;
  • Gross, Gallia Judaica, pp. 280-281;
  • Renan and Neubauer, Les Ecrivains Juifs Français, pp. 468-469;
  • Reifmann, Toledot R. ZeraḦyah, p. 48;
  • Literaturblatt des Orients, 1849, p. 481;
  • Michael, Or ha-Ḥayyim, No. 552.
K. L. G.
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