Meir

(2nd century AD)
   Palestinian tanna. Meir was the outstanding pupil of the great Rabbi AKIBA. He fled after the suppression of the BAR-KOCHBA revolt and the execution of Akiba by the Romans. When the Roman persecutions abated, Meir took a leading part in reorganizing the Sanhedrin. SIMEON BEN- GAMALIEL II was installed as nasi and Meir was given the position of deputy head of the court, with the title of chacham. There was friction with the nasi, and eventually Meir left the Sanhedrin to set up his own academy at Tiberias. His teaching became the main pillar of the Mishnah, the great compilation of JUDAH HA-NASI.
   Meir regarded the study of the Torah as the highest ideal and said that a bastard (mamzer) who was also a scholar was to be considered as on a higher plane than an unlearned priest. Nevertheless labour was not to be neglected and a father should teach his son a craft. His ideals were followed by a group of scholars who formed a union, the ‘Holy Congregation in Jerusalem’. They divided their day into three parts: a third for prayer, a third for study and a third for work.
   Meir’s family suffered much tragedy. His father-in-law, Hananiah ben- Teradyon, was cruelly executed by the Romans. His wife’s sister was consigned to a brothel, but he succeeded in redeeming her. His two sons died in childhood. His teacher, Elisha ben-Avuya, became an apostate, and Meir was alone in maintaining contact with him and trying to persuade him to ‘return’. Meir bore his misfortunes with fortitude, saying that everything God did was for the best.

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

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