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Rav Yehoshua of Cracow - A Special Visitor Comes To Take Him Home

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Rav Yehoshua of Cracow - A Special Visitor Comes To Take Him Home
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Not as well known today as his grandson the Pnei Yehoshua,Rav Yehoshua ben Yosef of Cracow was a leading Gadol in generation filled with great gedolim. Although his sefer of Shailos and Tshuvos is also called Pnei Yehoshua, he is better known for his sefer Maginei Shlomo. In it he defends Rashi from the attacks of Tosfos. He once told his talmidim that Rashi came to him in a dream and told him, "Lucky is your lot in Olam HaZeh and it will be good for you in Olam Haba since you have rescued me from the clutches of the lions and cubs, strong and sharp, the Baalei Tosfos. I will come with all my talmidim to greet you in Olam HaBah." In fact half an hour before his was niftar, with all the gedolim of Cracow surrounding his bed he said, "clear a path because Rav Shlomo Yitzchaki and all his holy ones with him came."

He was born in Vilna to a family of Talmidei Chaochomim and at a young age traveled to Poland where he was a talmid of Rav Yehoshua Falk HaKohen author of the Sm"a, Rav ShmuelMiPremysl, and the Maharam of Lublin. He learned together with Rav Meir Katz the father of the Shach. He had filled a number of Rabbinic posts including Titktin, Lvov, and Premysl when he was called upon to become the Rosh Yeshiva in Cracow in place of the great Mekubal Rav Nosson Nata Shapira the author of the Megaleh Amukos.

His learning style was sharp and to the point breaking with the Polish tradition of carefully crafted pilpulim. He was not afraid to argue on the Shulchan Aruch and the Rishonim. He criticized the Chelkas Mechokeik for accepting the opinion of the Tur and the Mishneh L'Melech as given despite drawing the opposite conclusion. He didn't take the word of the Shulchan Aruch as indisputable. Among his talmidim were the Shach and the Avodas HaGershuni. He eventually succeeded Rav Yoel Sirkis also known as the Bach in the position of Av Bais Din of Cracow.

He was known to be a great Mekubal and he corresponded with Rav Shimshon of Ostropolle. His grandson the Pnei Yehoshua on Shas says that he wrote a peirush on the works of the great Mekubal Rav Azarya MiFano but it was stolen and published under a different name.

Rav Yehoshua of Cracow left behind sons and sons in law who were Gedolei Hador. With his connection to Rashi he taught us that the Torah is a living Torah, breaking down the boundaries between this world and the next. He made his own journey to Shamayim on 27 Av 5408/1648. Yehi Zichro Boruch.

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