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Rabbi Meir


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Prominent teacher of the second century ce, the period of the later Tannaim. Meir was one of the last disciples of Rabbi Akiba. Like his master, he was responsible for collections of teaching that eventually found their way into the Mishnah, a work in which Rabbi Meir often features. It was said that Rabbi Meir was so brilliant that his colleagues were incapable of fathoming the full profundity of his thoughts and for this reason where Rabbi Meir is in dispute with his colleagues, his rulings are not followed. There is something of a mystery about Rabbi Meir's background. Unlike the other Tannaim, his father's name is never given. A Talmudic legend has it that Rabbi Meir was descended from none other than the Emperor Nero; this is probably a folk-tale based on the resemblance between the name Meir, which means ‘illumination’, and a folk etymology of Nero from ner, a lamp. There are legends about Rabbi Meir's wife, Beruriah, said to be a woman of great learning.

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies.


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