JEROHAM BEN MESHULLAM


JEROHAM BEN MESHULLAM (c. 1290–1350), Spanish talmudist. Born in Provence, he was a victim of the expulsion of the Jews from France in 1306, and wandered in various countries until he arrived in Toledo, Spain, where, living in utter poverty, he continued his studies under *Asher b. Jehiel (the Rosh), and Abraham b. Moses Ismail, a pupil of Solomon b. Abraham *Adret. In his first known work, the Sefer Mesharim, on civil law, Jeroham arranged the relevant laws according to their subjects, noted their sources and origins in the Talmud, and collected the decisions of many scholars. He was meticulous in arranging his work in such a way that "any man, whether a great scholar or a minor student, might easily find any law that he wished." Jeroham states, "After my friends saw its usefulness, they pressed me to compose a similar work relating to the positive and negative commandments, and I yielded to their entreaties." He then composed his second book, Toledot Adam ve-Ḥavvah, which he arranged according to the cycle of human life, from birth to death. The section on Adam runs from birth until marriage; the section on Eve from marriage until death. Jeroham quotes the opinions of leading scholars of France, Spain, and Provence, and transmits the customs of various communities and countries. Jeroham's works enjoyed only brief popularity, being superseded by the Arba'ah Turim, the superior work of his friend and contemporary, *Jacob b. Asher. Jeroham's two works were printed for the first time in Constantinople in 1516, and thereafter there was a certain revival of interest in them. The foremost legal authorities of the 16th century, Joseph *Caro, Samuel de *Medina, and others, quoted him extensively. The few editions of the book are all based upon the editio princeps which was printed from a very corrupt manuscript, and therefore was not much used by students. Very few commentaries were composed to it; for those that were, legend had it that either the commentator died prematurely or the commentary was lost. The *Maggid (heavenly mentor) who spoke to Joseph Caro called him Jeroham Temiri ("Jeroham the Secret"). The work entitled Issur ve-Hetter, published in 1882 by Jacob Abukara, was erroneously ascribed to Jeroham.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Freimann, in: JJLG, 12 (1918), 265n., 283–5; I. Ta-Shema, in: Sinai, 64 (1969), 254–6.

[Israel Moses Ta-Shma]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.