Tag Archives: Rabbi Meir

Jew of the Week: Rabbi Meir

The Miracle Worker

Tomb of Rabbi Meir in Tiberias, Israel

Rabbi Meir (2nd century CE) was born in what is today Turkey to a family of Roman converts to Judaism. He was descended from the Roman Emperor Nero. Rabbi Meir was one of the 24,000 students of the illustrious Rabbi Akiva. While nearly all of the students tragically perished during the Bar Kochva Revolt (132-136 CE), Rabbi Meir was one of five who survived, and the Talmud credits them with going on to revive Jewish life in the Holy Land and save Judaism from extinction. Rabbi Meir played a key role in the later production of the Mishnah, the earliest compilation of Jewish oral laws. In addition to being one of the most oft-cited voices in the Mishnah, every anonymous Mishnaic teaching is attributed to Rabbi Meir, too. During the war with the Romans, Rabbi Meir’s father-in-law, Rabbi Chananiah ben Teradion was killed, and his sister-in-law was taken captive. The Talmud relates that Rabbi Meir dressed up as a Roman officer and went past enemy lines to save her, managing to extricate her from a Roman brothel. After the war, he helped to re-establish the Sanhedrin, and was widely recognized as the greatest sage of his generation. He was also known to work miracles, and is often called Rabbi Meir Ba’al haNes, “the miracle-worker”, probably originating from the fact he was miraculously saved from numerous dangerous incidents. In fact, there is an old Jewish custom to invoke his name when in danger, saying Elokah d’Meir ‘aneni! (אֱלָקָא דְמֵאִיר עֲנֵנִי), “May the God of Meir answer me!” (Or “May God answer me like He answered Meir!”) The same phrase is recited when a person can’t find a lost object and needs help from Above. Some say “Meir” was only his nickname—because he was an “illuminator”—and his real name may have been Nehorai or Elazar. According to some sources, Rabbi Meir’s yahrzeit is today, the first of Tevet.

The New Antisemitism

Government Leaders Around the World Light Menorahs

Words of the Week

An Israeli soldier bears not only a duty to enlist in compulsory military service, but is granted the zechut, privilege, to fulfill a holy commandment, a mitzva, of guarding his fellow Jews.
Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo

Jew of the Week: Beruria

Women Are Always Right

A Page of Talmud

Beruria (c. 170 CE) Despite the fact that her parents were executed by the Romans for the crime of teaching Torah, Beruria went on to become a famous Jewish sage herself, exceeding the greatness of many rabbis of her time (and all-time). She is said to have learned 300 chapters of Jewish law in a single day (a bad day, no less) and settled quite a few rabbinic disputes. Married to the miracle worker Rabbi Meir, they were forced to flee Israel from the Romans and lost two of their sons in a plague. A well-known story narrates the couples’ heroic rescue of Beruria’s kidnapped sister from a brothel. In a nod to the modern-day adage that women are always right, the Talmud ends a debate between the sages by stating simply: “Beruria has spoken correctly.”

Words of the Week

“Seek G-d when He may be found, call upon Him when He is near” (Isaiah 55:6) These are the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
– Talmud, Rosh HaShana 18a