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Sahula, Meir ben Solomon Abi

SAHULA, MEIR BEN SOLOMON ABI (1260?, perhaps 1251–after 1335), Spanish kabbalist, younger brother of Isaac Abi *Sahula. During the 1280s and 1290s, and possibly for a longer period, Sahula lived in *Guadalajara, the center of a group of kabbalists. Halakhic responsa were addressed to him in this city by Solomon b. Abraham Adret (Responsa 1: nos. 270–6, 280–92). His teacher in *Kabbalah was Joshua *Ibn Shuaib, a senior disciple of Solomon b. Abraham Adret. Sahula only began to write kabbalistic works in his later years. It is not clear whether Sahula's commentary (1875) on the esoteric material in *Nahmanides' commentary on the Bible is his own or that of his teacher. Sahula himself re-edited one of the commentaries on the kabbalistic allusions of Naḥmanides, taking to task its author and supplanting the original comments with his own. The book that served as the subject of his criticism was not the commentary of Shuaib, but that of another scholar who was not his teacher. He began writing this commentary in 1320, but by 1325 he had only completed the part on Genesis. During that year he began a commentary on Sefer *Yeẓirah which he completed in 1331, after a delay of some years. The preface to this commentary is a lengthy commentary on Midrash Shimon ha-Ẓaddik, a kabbalistic book of the circle of Sefer ha-Iyyun. The commentary on Sefer Yeẓirah is a severe criticism of Naḥmanides' comments on the first chapter of Sefer Yeẓirah. It also contains a long passage on the mystical account of creation.

His approach to Kabbalah differs from that of Naḥmanides, Solomon b. Abraham Adret, and the *Zohar, and is based on his own speculations, which he ascribed to Midrash Shimon ha-Ẓaddik. In addition, he concentrated on the sayings of the kabbalists of Gerona and of *Asher b. David. When his commentary on Sefer Yeẓirah was completed, he began one on Sefer ha-*Bahir; apparently he completed this commentary in 1335, and it was published anonymously in the 1883 edition of Sefer ha-Bahir under the title Or ha-Ganuz. Perhaps the entire manuscript, or at least a major part of his commentary on Sefer Yeẓirah in the Angelica Library of Rome (De Capua 53), is in the author's own handwriting. Sahula also wrote a kabbalistic commentary on Pirkei de-R. Eli'ezer, which is lost. His comments on Sefer Yeẓirah and Sefer ha-Bahir are highly arbitrary, and he attributes views to Naḥmanides which contradict the latter's real opinions. The kabbalists of Salonika in the early 16th century were acquainted with his books. Thus, Solomon *Alkabeẓ accused Sahula of "not aiming at the truth." On the other hand, Meir *Poppers praised his commentary on the Yeẓirah and made it a basis for his own commentary, Or Bahir (G. Scholem, Kitvei Yad be-Kabbalah, (1930), 147).