This session (Fall 2022) at SVARA, I have been part of a small group exploring “The Dazzling Wisdom of Rabbi Meir.” We began learning of Rabbi Meir’s tendency to add so many “faces” or facets or perspectives to an issue that his colleagues “could not stand on the end of his insight.” We looked at how his colleagues viewed R’ Meir and some of his students fared (Eruvin 13b).
We detoured — or maybe entered the heart of the matter — to discuss the sheretz, its ritual status viz a viz purity, and its relationship to the death penalty (Shabbat 147b).
We explored Rabbi Meir’s initial arrival before Rabbi Akiva, where he could “not stand on the heart of” his learning and went to Rabbi Ishmael, where he gmara‘d g’mara and then returning to R’ Akiva where he svara‘d svara (Eruvin 13a). This was “mei-ikar,” in the beginning or maybe, from the essence of the thing.
Then we learned (returning to Eruvin 13b) about the years-long dispute between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai and the bat kol that settled the practice while widening the teaching.
All this called to mind for me active parallels with my own learning, from youth to whatever age I am now, and from early days of the Havurah movement to wherever things are today. One result of my more organizationally-oriented musings is this “Teacher-Filled Tale” document, which concludes with “Blessing for Recitation by Descendants of Rabbi Meir.”
Some aspects of more individually-focused musings were shared earlier as “Bowie and Hendrix and God and Meir.”
In deep gratitude to my study partner, teachers, entire dazzling bet midrash, and SVARA as a whole, and to all my teachers.
Image featured is section of the PDF shared.