The Jewish Eye
The Maharshal: Rav Shlomo Luria's Great Humility Didn't Hold Him Back
Maharshal was born around the year 5270/1510 in Brisk which was then
part of Poland. Famous for his brilliance and humility Rav Shlomo
Luria known as the Maharshal lived in Europe at the same time Rav Yosef
Karo was writing his Shulchan Aruch and the Maharshal's own relative,
the Rema, was writing his own glosses on the Shulchan Aruch. Despite
being one of the most respected Gedolim in his era, the Maharshal
employed a magid who would accompany him and give him mussar. The
Maharshal would sit like a child before his master and listen to this
The Rema wrote about him, "he is great like Shammai and
modest like Hillel. Any bird that flew over him while he was learning
burned up like Yonoson ben Uziel."
The Maharshal was a fiercely
independent thinker and did not hesitate to criticize both the
decisions of his colleagues and their decision making process. He was
staunch critic of the Rav Yosef Karo's landmark work because it relied
primarily on the psak of only three gedolim (Rif, Rambam, and Rosh) and
did not draw its own conclusions. The Maharshal also openly criticized
the pilpul method that had become popular a the time. This criticism
was leveled at the Rav Sholom Shachna (father in law of the Rema) and
his Yeshiva in Lublin, which was the central dissemination point for
this derech. The Maharshal had a strong bond of love for his relative
the Rema but it did not stop him from criticizing the Rema for studying
philosophy and secular subjects as well as the use of incorrect grammar
in his writings.
The Maharshal's two most famous contributions
are the Yam Shel Shlomo which was a essentially a halacha sefer written
the way he thought halacha should be written. It takes each sugya and
then brings the varying opinions of the poskim of previous
generations. He then evaluates each of these opinions based on the
gemara itself and drawing his own conclusion.
important contribution is his edits to Shas called Chochmas Shlomo.
The text at that point was full of inaccuracies introduced over the
years by misguided publishers. In his opinion this was the root cause
of many of the errors made by other poskim. The Shas we have today is
in great part thanks to the work of the Maharshal. He also wrote a
commentary on Rashi called Yerios Shlomo.
Many of the leading
gedolim of the next generation were talmidim of the Maharshal including
Rav Chaim the famed brother of the Maharal MiPrague, the father of the
Shela, Rav Moshe Mos (Matteh Moshe), the Masas Binyomin, the Olelos
Ephraim, the Sm'a, and Rav Mordechai Yafeh who was also a talmid of the
The Maharshal was niftar in Lublin on 12 Kislev 5334/1573
two years after the petira of the Arizal and two years before Rav Yosef
Karo. Yehi Zichro Boruch.
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