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(2nd century C.E.) Greatest of Rabbi Akiba‘s disciples, this 2nd-century Tanna figures prominently in the Mishnah. All laws in the Mishnah whose authorship is not specified are ascribed to Rabbi Meir. Although second only to the head of the Sanhedrin in scholarship and rank, Rabbi Meir earned a modest living by copying holy scrolls. He had a keen legal mind, and the imaginative side of his nature was expressed in legends, fables, and parables. It is said that he composed 300 fox fables; all except three have been lost.

Rabbi Meir was a pupil of Elisha Ben Abuyah who later strayed from Judaism. Unlike other sages who forsook this once revered teacher, Rab_bi Meir continued to benefit from his learning and tried to bring Elisha Ben Abuyah back to Judaism. Rabbi Meir had an abiding, deep love for the land of Israel and for the Hebrew language. He said, “One who lives in the land of Israel and speaks the holy tongue is assured of his share in the world to come.”

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