Meir Ben-baruch

Meir Ben-Baruch (also called by the Jews Mahaaram, from the initial letters = מה8 רם מורנו הרב מאיר, our teacher the rabbi Meir), one of the most distinguished Jewish literati during the Middle Ages, was born in 1230. He was the first official chief rabbi in the German empire, to which dignity he was nominated by the emperor Rudolph I of Hapsburg. He had his seat and college at Rottenburg-an-der-Tauber, whence he is also called Meir ofRottenburg or Meier Rottenburg. The unsettled condition of the Jews in the German empire, especially the oppressions and persecutions which threatened them. every year, obliged Meir to leave the country. In the spring of 1286 he prepared to go to Syria. There, it was said, a Messiah had appeared to deliver the unhappy people. When about to enter the vessel which would convey him and his co-religionists who had followed him from Italy to the East, he was recognised by a former co-religionist, named Knippe, who was in the suite of the bishop of Basle. Rabbi Meir was imprisoned by the emperor, not so much for punishment as for the purpose of extorting from him or his co-religionists a sum of money. Meir died in 1293 in prison at Worms, where his tombstone was discovered a few years since in the " Gottesacker," or cemetery. The Ashkenazim, or German Jews, venerate him as a saint. Meir wrote Theological Decisions, or Questions and Answers (שאלות ותשובות), which have been published at Cremona, 1557; Prague, 1603. He. also wrote Commentaries on the Masorah (באירי מסרת), which are still in MS. in the public libraries. He also wrote some liturgical pieces, which are still in use among the Jews; among other pieces, the famous lamentation שרופה באש שאלי, in commemoration of the burning of the law at Paris in 1242. See Etheridge, Introd. to Hebrews Literature, p. 288; Gratz, Gesch. d. Juden, 7:107, 170- 172, 188-191, 445, 456-60 (new edit. Leipsic, 1873); Jost, Geschichte des Judenthums u. s. Sekten, 3:32, 58; Furst, Biblioth. Jud. 3:176, 177; Zunz, Geschichte und Literatur, p. 40, .2,'128 (Berlin, 1845); Literatnurgeschichte der Synagogales Poesie, p. 357-62,623 (Berlin, 1865). (B. P.)

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