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Jewish Commentators — Their Lives and Works

 

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Meir Simcha of Dvinsk
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Hebrew Name(s): מאיר שמחה הכהן מדווינסק
Other Names: Meir Simcha ha-Kohen of Dvinsk, Meir Simcha ha-Kohen, Reb Meir Simcha, Ohr Sameach, Ohr Somayach, Ohr Sameaḥ
Period: Acharonim — 19th–20th Century
Location: b. Lithuania, settled in Poland
Dates: 1843–1926

Biography:
Meir Simcha of Dvinsk was born in Butrimonys, Lituania and settled in Bialystok, Poland, after his marriage. His father-in-law supported his continuing studies in Talmud. He became rabbi to mitnagdim (non-Ḥasidic Jews) in Dvinsk, Latvia (c. 1883) and remained in this position until his death. He was frequently consulted on matters affecting the community at large, including Poland and Lithuania.
 
Meir Simcha was not a Zionist and supported Aqudath Yisrael.* He also had clashes with some of his contemporaries, including R. Yisrael Meir Kagan (the Chafetz Chaim) on political matters and matter related to Jewish law.
 
R. Meir Simcha of Dvinsk has been honored by the Haredi Jewish group who, since 1970, have established yeshivahs named Ohr Somayach —a play on Meir Simcha's name.
 
* The organization was founded in Katowice (Upper Silesia, now in the southwestern part of Poland), in 1912, as a worldwide movement of Orthodox Jews. It established the Council of Torah Sages as its religious authority on all political matters. Opposed to secular Zionism and the World Zionist Organization (the settlement of Jews in Palestine; a return to Palestine), it consisted of three major groups: German Orthodox followers of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch; the Lithuanian yeshiva (religious school) community; and Polish Hasidic rabbis and their followers - especially the Gur Hasidic group. The major objective was to provide a range of religion-based communal services to strengthen the Orthodox community.

Works:
Meshech Ḥokhmah (The Price of Wisdom);  Ohr Sameaḥ (The Delighted, or Happy, Light), a Commentary on Rambam's Mishneh Torah; Chidushei a Talmud Bavli  & Yerushalmi (a Commentrary on the Talmud).

Comments:
Ohr Sameaḥ —novellae on Rambam's Mishneh Torah.
Meshech Ḥokhmah was published posthumously by his pupil Menachem Mendael Zaks and contains novellae on the Torah and philosophical comment.

 

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