According to the Babylonian Talmud, the real name of Rabbi Meir was Rabbi NEHORAI. He was named Rabbi MEIR because he enlightened the eyes of his disciples with his teaching. However, it should be pointed out, that MEIR in Hebrew, as NEHORAI in Aramaic comes from the same root (light). The Talmud also teaches us that Rabbi MEIR was a descendant of proselytes, which is why his father’s name is never mentioned in rabbinical writings. It is interesting to note that the notion of “Light” is present even in the origins of Rabbi MEIR, we find indeed the word NER (candle) in the name of his ancestor converted NERON. Thus, since its origins, Rabbi MEIR is intended to enlighten the eyes of Israel by his knowledge.
Rabbi MEIR enjoyed a special divine protection. It was enough for him to pronounce this formula, which has remained the famous “God of MEIR, Answer me !”, so that everything will return to the order miraculously. He was often saved from delicate situations by the providential intervention of Elijah the prophet, even the creatures below did not resist his holiness.
Rabbi Haim Vital, principal disciple of Rabbi Yitzchak Louria the Arizal, asked his master: Why Rabbi MEIR is buried upright? The answer of the master was: Rabbi MEIR is buried standing to protect his people by his eternal merit, as if he were still alive.
Rabbi Yossef Haim, the author of BEN ICH HAI writes: It is not for nothing that all the communities of Israel used to pronounce wishes in the name of Rabbi MEIR BAAL HANESS, it is to awake his merit, so that he protects his brothers.
Rabbi Eliaou Ha states that, if a person is in danger, sick, or have been the victim of the theft or the loss of a precious object, he will proceed in this way (procedure inspired by Rabbi Israel Baal Chem Tov):
He offers 18 pieces at the synagogue for the lighting of the wicks and he says: I vow to offer these 18 pieces for lighting wicks in honor of Rabbi MEIR BAAL HANESS. God of Rabbi MEIR, hear me ! May it be your eternal will, our God and God of our fathers, in the same way that you have heard the pray of your servant MEIR and have performed for Him miracles, thus performed for the people of Israel and for me the wonders hidden and unveiled. Amen.
May the merit of Rabbi MEIR continue to protect the people of Israel from days to years until the coming of Mashiach. Amen.
(From the book “The Life and Work of Rabbi MEIR BAAL HANESS by Hervé Menahem SMADJA).
The Rebbe always recommends that women and girls put some pieces to Rabbi Meir Baal Haness’s Tzedakah, before the lighting of the Chabat and Yom Tov candles, a practice that brings a lot of blessing and protection.