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Rabbi Meir

Rabbi Meir

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Rabbi Meir was a disciple of Rabbi Akiba. He was called Rabbi Meir because he enlightened the Sages with his great scholarship. (Meir comes from the word "Or" light). He belonged to the third generation of Tannaim after the destruction of the Beth Hamikdash. He lived at the time of the second Rabbi Simeon ben Gamliel, and his son Rabbi Judah the Prince, who gathered the teachings of all the Sages and arranged them in six volumes, known as the Mishnah.

Rabbi Meir lived in troubled times, at the time of the destruction of Bethar. Scholars were severely persecuted in his time. Before his very eyes, the cruel Romans murdered his illustrious teacher, Rabbi Akiba, whose flesh they combed with iron combs until he delivered up his soul to his Creator for the Sanctification of His Name. Rabbi Meir's father-in-law, the great Tanna, Rabbi Hanina ben Tradyon, met a similar fate, being burnt alive. (These were two of the unforgettable Ten Pious Sages killed by the Romans.)

When the persecution against the Sages was being carried out, Rabbi Meir fled to Babylon. Later, however, when Anthony Pius ascended the Roman throne and put a stop to the oppression, Rabbi Meir returned to Eretz Yisroel. He amazed his colleagues with his learning. It was said of Rabbi Meir that "whoever saw him studying the holy Torah, got the impression that he was tearing up mountains and grinding them to dust upon each other." His colleague Rabbi Jose said about him: "He is a great personage, a holy and humble man."

Rabbi Meir had a beautiful handwriting. He earned three ducats a week. One ducat he used to sustain himself and his family; another he used for clothes, and with the third he supported poor Torah scholars. Rabbi Meir's wife was called Beruriah. She was the daughter of Rabbi Hanina ben Tradyon and was famous for her knowledge of the Torah, her great piety and wisdom.

At one time, some disorderly people moved in as Rabbi Meir's neighbors, and caused him much trouble to such a degree, that Rabbi Meir was ready to pray that G-d should make them die. Beruriah said to him: "One should despise the sins of the wicked people, but not the people themselves, as King David said. It would be more correct to pray that they should improve their ways." Rabbi Meir took her advice and G-d accepted his prayer. Rabbi Meir's neighbors became pious kind-hearted people.

Rabbi Meir introduced many laws. Wherever we find a Mishnah where a law is stated with no name mentioned, we know that it is Rabbi Meir's Mishnah. Rabbi Meir used to make parables to help explain his ideas. Many people found his wise sayings an aid in their daily lives. For example, Rabbi Meir remarked that everyone should teach his child an honest trade, but one must bear in mind that it is not the person's job that makes him rich or poor, but that the Almighty provides him according to his merits.

"Great is the power of Repentance!" exclaimed Rabbi Meir. It not only saves the person himself, but it can also be instrumental in saving the whole world.

"If you have friends who praise you, and others who reproach you, hold dear those who reproach you . . . ." These and many other sayings of Rabbi Meir are to be found in the Talmud and Midrash.

Rabbi Meir used to travel a lot, both in Eretz Yisroel and outside Eretz Yisroel. When the Sanhedrin (Supreme Court) was once again set up in Usha under the leadership of Rabbi Simeon ben Gamliel the Prince, Rabbi Nathan was appointed Head of the Court and Rabbi Meir was appointed Haham - Sage. Later on he lived in Tiberias and he visited many other towns. In one town, which he visited before Purim, he found that they had no Megillah, so, being a Scribe, Rabbi Meir wrote the complete Megillah by heart and read it for the Jews of that town.

Rabbi Meir died at a ripe old age. He even attended the wedding of the son of Rabbi Judah the Prince.

Rabbi Meir lived about 1,800 years ago, but he is still very much alive among the many Yeshivah students and Torah scholars, who mention his name many times a day in their study of the holy Torah.

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Discussion (8)
January 24, 2013
To: Yisroel Cotlar
I looked into the search at Chabad.org concerning the prayer at the tomb of a sage. I could not find anything. As per your writing, you recognize that it is a form of idolatry to pray to a person who has passed. Why do they still do it? I do not want to hurt anybody's feelings, but I still think is wrong. Maybe that is the reason why Hashem, blessed be He, is not happy with our behavior. He is a very jealous G-d, as it is written in Torah. I do not have the custom to pray even for my mother. She passed and I would not disturbe her in anyway. I wish to understand this behavior. Thank you
Anonymous
USA
January 24, 2013
Re:
Yes, Jewish customs can be perplexing. Judaism is all about having a direct connection to G-d. An intermediary is a form of idolatry. Yet for as long as there are records, Jews have been in the habit of asking righteous men and women to have a chat with G-d on their behalf. And Jews have also always prayed at tombs of righteous individuals dating back to Caleb who prayed at Maarat Hamechpela for help in avoiding the pressure of the spies!

How to reconcile these ideas? Here is an article that explains the concept at length:
chabad.org/562222/
Yisroel Cotlar
Cary NC
January 21, 2013
Rabbi Meir
I do not understand why people go to pray at his tomb. By doing this, is it because the people think that Rabbi Meir of blessed memory would intervene for their sins before the Throne of Glory? If this is the reason, why not pray directly to Hashem? I understand that one needs to know 'how' to pray to Hashem, blessed be He, and that we can all pray for the people of Israel, our brothers and sisters in their favor. It is a good thing. But I would need more information on the reason of praying on the tomb of a sage. Thank you for your info.
Anonymous
USA
April 19, 2011
Geneology
I was told that I am a descendent of Rabbi Meir. My maiden name was Feuer(meaning fire) Supposedly all people with names having to do with ,ligh, heat , fire are related.How can i verify this?
Anonymous
Arroyo Grande, Ca.
January 24, 2011
Birth and Passing
Rabbi Meir lived in the 2nd century CE, but I have not seen any source stating the exact year of his birth or passing. There is a tradition that the date of his passing is the 14th (or the 15th) of the Hebrew month of Iyar.
Baruch Davidson for Chabad.org
Brooklyn, NY
January 23, 2011
Rabbi Meir
when was rabbi meir born and died?
Anonymous
agoura hills, california
November 11, 2010
Where was he buried?
The Jerusalem Talmud (Kilayim 9:3) states that Rabbi Meir died in Asia Minor, which is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey.

The Talmud relates that "his parting words were "Tell the people of Israel, here is your anointed one." And he insisted yet to be placed on the banks of the sea."

Most understand the above to mean that he was saying that he should brought to Israel, and that in Israel he wanted to be buried near the water, which would explain why they chose Tiberias. Other seem to understand that his last statement was not an instruction about where he should be buried, rather, he was just saying to inform the people of Israel. According to this latter opinion he was indeed interred in Turkey.
Baruch
NYC
November 10, 2010
Rabbi Meir Baal Haness
Blessings. Can you please tell me why some say R Meir Baal Haness is buried in Turkey? Is the mishna unanimous in that he was buried in tiberias? is there a difference of opinion on this? looking forward to your reply.
theresa
Selangor, Malaysia
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