Page 263 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

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that the son had the means to do so), choosing instead to provide
that support from charity funds, constituted a desecration of
the biblical requirement to show honor for one’s parents.21 R.
Meir displayed great personal respect for students and col­
leagues. He apparently rose when his students entered the
room.22 He offered encouragement to those who had entered
the nascent professional rabbinate23, and he repeatedly called
for rabbinic scholars to treat each other respectfully even when
they disagreed in matters of law and authority.24 It should be
noted that R. Meir’s academy, which probably numbered no
more than twenty-five students at any one time, was situated
in his home, as was the style throughout the Tosafist period.
A number of students, perhaps as many as fifteen, boarded
in R. Meir’s large home as well.25 As the Boswell-like work of
his student R. Samson b. Zadok (
suggests, teacher and
students learned with, from, and about each other in both form­
al and informal situations.26
R. Meir was, however, more restrictive than his Tosafist
predecessors concerning the rights that a student had to render
legal decisions in close proximity to his teacher. The thrust of
R. Meir’s position was that a student could rule only on the
basis of Geonic or post-Talmudic legal codes and writings. I f
a case did not appear in that corpus, the student was not entitled
to rule on the basis of his own understanding and analysis of
talmudic literature itself. Tosafists such as Ri, R. Samson of
Sens, and the brothers Moses and Samuel of Evreux were much
more expansive in granting students the opportunity to rule.27
21. See the sources cited in Michael Signer, “Honor the Hoary Head: The
Aged in the Medieval Jewish Community,”
Aging and the Aged in Medieval Europe,
ed. Michael Sheehan (Toronto, 1990), 47.
Haggahot Maimuniyyot
Mishneh Torah, Hilkhot Talmud Torah
5 :9 , sec. 50.
Teshuvot Bacalei ha-Tosafot,
ed. Agus, 143.
24. See, e.g., ibid., 174-76.
25. See Mordekhai Breuer, “Le-Heker ha-Tippologiyyah shel Yeshivot ha-
Macarav Bimei ha-Beinayim,”
Studies in the History ofJewish Society in the Medieval
and Early Modem Periods
(Presented to Prof. Jacob Katz), ed. Emmanuel Etkes
et al., (Jerusalem, 1980), 50-53 , and my
Jewish Education and Society,
pp. 66-67.
26. See Agus, 27 ; Urbach, 561-62 .
27. See my “Rabbinic Authority and the Right to Open an Academy in Medieval