Joseph ibn Migash

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Joseph ibn Migash or Joseph ben Meir HaLevi ibn Migash or Yosef Ibn Meir Ha-Levi Ibn Megas or José ben Meir ibn Megas (1077 - 1141) (Hebrew: יוסף בן מאיר הלוי אבן מיגאש‎) was a Rabbi, Posek, and Rosh Yeshiva in Lucena (actually Spain). He is also known as Ri Migash (ר"י מיגאש), the Hebrew acronym for "Rabbi Joseph Migash".

Biography[edit]

Joseph ibn Migash was probably born in Seville (though Steinschneider believes it was Granada). He moved to Lucena at the age of 12 to study under the renowned Talmudist Isaac Alfasi. He studied under Alfasi at Lucena for fourteen years. Shortly before his death (1103), Alfasi ordained Ibn Megas as a rabbi, and - passing over his own son - also appointed him, then 26, to be his successor as Rosh Yeshiva (seminary head). Joseph ibn Migash held this position for 38 years.

It is clear that Megas was a great scholar: Maimonides in the introduction to his Mishnah commentary says "the Talmudic learning of this man amazes every one who understands his words and the depth of his speculative spirit; so that it might almost be said of him that his equal has never existed." Judah ha-Levi eulogizes him in six poems which are full of his praise. Joseph ibn Migash's best known student is probably Maimon, the father and teacher of Maimonides.

There is a tradition that Maimonides himself was a pupil of Joseph ibn Migash. This probably arose from the frequent references in Maimonides' works to him as an authority. It is unlikely that he was literally taught by him, as Maimonides was 6 years old at the time of Joseph ibn Migash's death.

However, Maimonides' grandson published a pamphlet with the approval of his grandfather, in which it is described that Maimonides ran away from home in his youth, met Joseph ibn Migash, and studied under him for several years.

Works[edit]

Joseph ibn Migash authored over 200 Responsa, "She'elot u-Teshuvot Ri Migash" - originally in Arabic - many of which are quoted in Bezalel Ashkenazi's Shittah Mekubetzet. He specified Chananel Ben Chushiel and Alfasi as his authorities.

He also authored a Talmudic commentary - ḥiddushim (novellae) on tractates Baba Batra (link here) and Shevuot (included in Joseph Samuel Modiano's Uryan Telitai, Salonica 1795) - which is quoted by various Rishonim. His other works have been lost.

External links and references[edit]

Ibn Migas, Joseph (Jehosef) Ben Meïr Ha-Levi, jewishencyclopedia.com