Meshulam "the Great" Kalonymos, of Lucca
|Also Known As:||"Meshullam ben Kalonymus", "Meshullam the Great", "Meshullam ben קלונימוס", ""The Great" - Hagadol"|
|Birthplace:||Mainz, Mainz, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany|
|Death:||Died in France|
|Managed by:||Private User|
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About Meshulam Kalonymos Hagadol
Kalonymos or Kalonymus (Hebrew: קלונימוס) is a prominent Jewish family originally from Lucca, Italy, which, after the settlement at Mainz and Speyer of several of its members, took during many generations a leading part in the development of Jewish learning in Germany.
The family is according to many considered the foundation of Hachmei and Hasidei Ashkenaz.
Meshullam the Great, called also the Roman, was a Halakhist and liturgical poet; flourished at Rome or at Lucca about 976. Towards the end of his life, R'Meshullam settled in Mainz, Germany.
He carried on with Gershom Me'or ha-Golah and Simon the Great a scientific correspondence, which is included in the "Teshuvot Geonim Kadmonim" (13a), and was the author of a commentary on Avot ("Aruk," s.v. ).
Meshullam engaged in polemics with the Karaites. From the Bible text he demonstrates that, contrary to their opinion, one may quit one's house on Shabbat and have one's house lighted on the night of Shabbat ("Semag," No. 66; "Sefer Ḥasidim,"No. 1147).
Meshullam was a prolific liturgical poet.
Of the piyyutim contained in the kerobah of the "Shacharit" service of the Day of Atonement, at least twenty (possibly thirty-two) belong to him.
He wrote also: an "'Avodah," recited after the prayer for the synagogue reader and containing a cursory review of Biblical history from Adam down to Levi; a yoẓer for Passover; and two zulot.
Altogether thirty-eight piyyuṭim are attributed to him. Although their language is labored, they are distinguished by their elevation of thought and conciseness. There was another payyeṭan called "Meshullam the Great," to whom probably belongs the Aramaic poetical Targum on the Decalogue which is generally attributed to Meshullam the Great ben Kalonymus (comp. Landshuth, "'Ammude ha-'Abodah," s.v.).
See Kalonymos Family Tree chart:
The name ought really to be spelled "Kalonymos," as Kalonymus ben Kalonymus . The origin of the name, which occurs in Greece, Italy, and Provence, is uncertain. Wolf thought it a translation of the Hebrew "Shem-Tob" Zunz, that it represented the Latin "Cleonymus"
Traces of the family in Italy may be found as early as the second half of the eighth century. As to the date of the settlement of its members in Germany, the opinions of modern scholars are divided, owing to the conflicting statements of the Jewish sources .
Rapoport, Leopold Zunz, and many others place the settlement in 876, believing the King Charles, mentioned in the sources as having induced the Kalonymides to emigrate to Germany, to have been Charles the Bald, who was in Italy in that year;
Luzzatto and others think that it took place under Charlemagne, alleging that the desire to attract scholars to the empire was more in keeping with the character of that monarch;
Still others assign it to the reign of Otto II (973-983), whose life, according to the historian Thietmar von Merseburg, was saved in a battle with the Saracens by a Jew named Kalonymus.
See the following table, compiled from the accounts of Eleazar of Worms and Solomon Luria, gives the Italian and German heads of the family, which produced for nearly five centuries the most notable scholars of Germany and northern France, such as Samuel he-Hasid and his son Judah he-Hasid. Although all of them are mentioned as having been important scholars, the nature of the activity of only a few of them is known.
Teachers and Colleagues
R' Meshullam the Great studied under R' Shlomo HaBavli (d 990) and corresponded extensively with R' Sherira Gaon (907 - 1007) of Babylon, and with his son R' Hai Gaon ( 939 - 1038).
He also kept in close contact with R' Shimon the Great of Mainz, and many times responded to inquires of the Mainz Beis Din. He is cited by Rashi (Zevachim 45b) and his responsa have been collected from various early sources and published (Berlin, 1893).
See chart at bottom of page.