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Joshua Hoeschel ben Joseph of Cracow

JOSHUA HOESCHEL BEN JOSEPH OF CRACOW (1578–1648), Polish rabbi. Joshua Hoeschel was born in Vilna. In his youth he studied under Samuel b. Feibush in Przemysl and then in the yeshivot of *Meir b. Gedaliah of Lublin and Joshua *Falk of Lemberg. From 1634 to 1639 he served as rabbi in the towns of Grodno, Tiktin, Przemysl, and Lemberg. At the beginning of 1640 he was appointed head of the yeshivah of Cracow in succession to Nathan *Spira, and from 1640 to 1644 he served there as rabbi in an honorary capacity. He died in Cracow. His pupils included *Shabbetai b. Meir ha-Kohen, Gershon Ulif *Ashkenazi, and Menahem Mendel *Auerbach. Halakhic problems were addressed to him from many countries. He corresponded on kabbalistic topics with his relative, the kabbalist Samson b. Pesaḥ of Ostropol. Joshua Hoeschel did not follow the method of pilpul; he strove toward greater independence in the domain of halakhah and directive ruling, stating, "according to the custom of our country anything printed in the Shulḥan Arukh may not, God forfend, be changed, any more than the law of Moses… God spare us from such a view. The judge may decide only according to the facts before him… and anyone may disagree, even with the words of the rishonim, if he has definite proof."

He wrote (1) Meginnei Shelomo (Amsterdam, 1715), on eight tractates of the Talmud, in which he defends Rashi against the difficulties raised by the tosafists; (2) the responsa Penei Yehoshu'a (pt. 1, ibid. 1715; pt. 2, 1860), on the four divisions of the Shulḥan Arukh. Other responsa were published in various collections of responsa: Ge'onei Batra'i (Zolkiew, 1795); Beit Ḥadash ha-Yeshanot (Frankfurt, 1697); Beit Ḥadash ha-Ḥadashot (Koretz, 1785) of Joel Sirkes; in the Gevurat Anashim (Dessau, 1697) of Meir Katz and his son Shabbetai, author of the Shakh; and elsewhere. There remain still in manuscript novellae to the Tur Yoreh De'ah Hilkhot Sheḥitah, and a commentary to the Asarah Ma'amarot of Menahem Azariah de Fano.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

JOSHUA: A.L. Feinstein, Ir-Tehillah (1886), 26, 147; Ḥ.N. Dembitzer, Kelilat Yofi, 2 (1893), 1a–38b; S. Buber, Anshei Shem (1895), 82–85; Graetz-Rabbinowitz, 8 (1899), 114, 120f.; S.M. Chones, Toledot ha-Posekim (1910), 375–7; Karl, in: Arim ve-Immahot be-Yisrael, 2 (1948), 305, 307; Ḥ. Tchernowitz, Toledot ha-Posekim, 3 (1947), 122, 144 n. 7, 149 n. 11, 154 n. 15, 159; Shulvass, in: Beit Yisrael be-Polin, 2 (1954), 19f.; Zinberg, Sifrut, 3 (1958), 191. JUDAH: J.M. Zunz, Ir ha-Ẓedek (1874), 159–60; Ḥ.N. Dembitzer, Kelilat Yofi, 2 (1893), 29b–30a; Ḥ.D. Friedberg, Luḥot Zikkaron (19042), index, s.v. Yehudah Lebush Shidlov; Halpern, Pinkas, 586 (index); Yaari, in: Talpioth, 8 (1963), 457.