Baghdad Nachalat Avot Ethical will by R. Meir ben Elijah
Author R. Meir ben Elijah
Publisher Solomon Hutsin
ספר נחלת אבות : אשר הנחיל ... דרכי ישרים ... אשר נמצאו בספרי ראשונים ואחרונים ...
מאיר בן אליהו;תרנ"ב
בגדאד : שלמה בכור חוצין
Ethical will by R. Meir ben Elijah directed to his sons. The title page states it is “an inheritance of the fathers (nahalat avot)” (Proverbs 19:14) to the sons, an everlasting inheritance “words of truth’ (Jeremiah 23:28, Ecclesiastes 12:10) and everlasting, “to open the eyes” (Isaiah 42:7) of those who slumber in the vanity of the times “sleeping, lying down” (Isaiah 56:10) and rest in idleness and vacuity. R. Meir has determined to give them balm for their souls, a cure for their flesh, to show them the straight and proper path, found in the works of rishonim and aharonim, “the way of the Lord” (Psalms 138:5, II Chronicles 17:6) to be zealous and to be in their hands until the coming of our redeemer. There are two introduction from R. Meir, in the first the initial words of each line form an acrostic that spells his name.
R. Meir ben Elijah (early 19th century) was the author of the ethical and educational work, Nahalat Avot (The Inheritance of the Fathers). Although written in the form of an ethical will – the author seemingly directing his teachings toward his own sons – the book is intended for the ethical betterment of the general public. Meir's principal concern is demonstrating the way to achieve reverence toward God, but he also deals with man's struggle against his own evil inclination, the best methods by which to educate one's children, proper behavior at home and in the synagogue, and social and religious ethics. The book is prefaced by a piyyut, with the notarikon of the author's name, and two opening statements, one encouraging sinners to repent, and the other insisting on repeated study of ethical literature. Among his major sources are the Zohar and Sefer ?asidim , which he quotes frequently; the Shenei Lu?ot ha-Berit by R. Isaiah ha-Levi Horowitz; and a more contemporary source – Nefesh ha-?ayyim by R. Hayyim of Volozhin . In addition, Meir mentions Ma’alot ha-Torah, a work composed by his grandfather. R. Meir also wrote a commentary on the tractate Avot, Derekh Avot, printed in Vilna, 1836.