Rabbi Meir of Rothenberg (1215 – 2 May 1293) was one of the greatest Jewish scholars of the Medieval age.
In Paris, Rabbi Meir witnessed the public burning of twenty-four cart loads of the Talmud by Louis IX on Friday, June 17, 1244.
In Germany, he was the Rabbi for several large Jewish communities. Rabbi Meir founded and financed an important yeshiva in Rothenberg where many of his students went on to become some of the best known and most important Halachic, Jewish law, authorities.
Rabbi Meir was acknowledged as the leading Ashkenazi authority on Talmud and Jewish law. The Jewish communities in France, Italy, and Germany frequently turned to Rabbi Meir for guidance. So great was his scholarship and wisdom that he was known as The Light of the Exile.
Among his disciples were the towering Rabenu Asher ben Jehiel and Rabbi Mordecai ben Hillel Ashkenazi.
In 1286 King Rudolph I declared the Jews of his lands servi camerae—serfs of the treasury—which destroyed Jewish political freedoms, in effect encouraging official persecution of the Jews. Rabbi Meir, his family, and scores of other Jews tried to flee the German lands, but Rabbi Meir was captured in Lombardy and imprisoned in a fortress near Ensisheim in Alsace.
Knowing that Rabbi Meir was beloved by the Jewish community, Rudolph demanded a huge ransom.
The Jewish community complied, and 23,000 marks silver was raised.
But Rabbi Meir refused to be ransomed.
To his students—crouched by the window of his prison cell—he explained that the ransom would only encourage further kidnappings, thereby placing other Rabbis in danger.
Rabbi Meir was that rare man who placed the future and safety of the Jewish community before his own well being.
Rabbi Meir died in prison after seven years.
Fourteen years after his death his body was ransomed by Alexander ben Shlomo Wimpfen.
Gilad Shalit has been in cruel captivity for over three years, kidnapped by the terrorist gang Hamas.
Israel will, eventually, release hundreds of terrorists in order to secure Shalit’s freedom.
The politicians are in favor of this deal because precedent has already been set by previous unwise Israeli administrations. And Shalit’s captivity is an open wound in Israeli society, a loud, squabbling extended family.
The IDF is in favor of this trade—this deal with the devil—because the IDF lives by a doctrine that no soldier is ever left behind.
The security services are unhappy for obvious reasons, but they have to go along. And, they reason, at least they know on whom to keep an eye. And let’s not forget that a number of Arab prisoners have already been flipped so they will supply valuable intel to the Israelis.
But let us be clear: you and I and every Jew in the world is, with each of these lopsided trades, placed in harm’s way because the Arab Muslim terrorists understand that Israel and Judaism are built on a foundation of empathy and decency.
And for the Arab Muslim terrorist and their western enablers this virtue is nothing less than a fatal weakness to be exploited again and again and again.