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The Maharshal: Rav Shlomo Luria's Great Humility Didn't Hold Him Back

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The Maharshal: Rav Shlomo Luria's Great Humility Didn't Hold Him Back
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The 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 mussar.

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.

His second 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 Rema.

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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