Asher ben Meshullam

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Rabbeinu Asher ben Meshullam was a Jewish theologian and Talmudic scholar who lived at Lunel in the second half of the 12th century CE.[1] A renowned Talmudist, he was a son of the well-known r' Meshullam ben Jacob (Rabbeinu Meshullam ha-Gadol), and a pupil of R' Joseph ibn Plat and the Raavad.

He shared Raavad's ascetic tendencies. Benjamin of Tudela, in the first part of his "Travels," says that R' Asher lived in complete seclusion, wholly devoted to the study of the Torah, and that he never tasted meat. At the same time R' Asher was not hostile to philosophy. R' Yehudah Ibn Tibbon, in a letter to R' Asher, praised his fondness for science, and in his testament exhorted his son to cultivate R' Asher's friendship.

R' Asher's alleged leaning towards kabbalah, mentioned by Heinrich Graetz, is unproven. The fact that he was responsible for the translation of Solomon ibn Gabirol's Tikkun Middot haNefesh is no proof for or against his kabbalistic leanings; the kabbalists had a strong leaning toward ibn Gabirol's mysticism; and, after all, Tikkun Middot haNefesh is moral in its tendencies, rather than strictly philosophical.

Works[edit]

R' Asher was the author of several Talmudic works, including:

  • Hilkhot Yom Tov, ("Rules for the Holidays")
  • Sefer haMatanot, ("The Book of Gifts") a work referring perhaps to the tithes payable to the kohanim.

Neither of these writings seems to have been preserved.

According to an entry in the manuscript of the small Midrash Aseret ha-Dibberot, R' Asher was its author, but the statement is not verifiable.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion - Page 74)

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainKohler, Kaufmann and Louis Ginzberg (1901–1906). "Asher b. Meshullam". In Singer, Isidore; et al. (eds.). The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link) Its bibliography: