Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heschel [of Cracow] (Hanukat HaTorah)

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Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (Levenshtam), Head of the Cracow Yeshiva

Hebrew: הגאון הקדוש רבי אברהם יהושע העשיל (מקראקא), מקרקוב - בעל חנוכת התורה
Also Known As: "Joshua", "Chacham Tzvi", "Chanukat H'atora", "Rabbi Hoeschl of Cracow"
Birthplace: Kraków, Kraków County, Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Poland
Death: October 21, 1663 (66-67)
Kraków, Kraków County, Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Poland
Place of Burial: Krakow, Kraków County, Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Poland
Immediate Family:

Son of Rabbi Yaakov Hirsch Lubliner, ABD Brisk & Lublin and Deborah Wahl Lubliner
Husband of Hesya Miriam Heschel and Dina Katz Heschel, "haGedolah"
Father of Rabbi Isaachar Berish Heschel/Babad; Sarah Megeza-Zvi Heschel; Grune Heschel; Wife of R' Aharon Zvi Hirsch HaKohen; Rabbi Saul Babad Teomim and 9 others
Brother of Mrs. Benjamin Zev Wolf Ashkenazi

Occupation: Av Beis Din and Rosh Yeshiva of Krakow, Av Beis Din Lublin Vekrakau, Chanikas HaTorah, Rabbi, Author of חנוכת התורה, Rav and Av Beit Din in Krakow & Lublin, àá" ìåáìéï, ÙmøàÙmà, Rabbi in Lublin, Brisck, Nikolsburg, AB"D Kr
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heschel [of Cracow] (Hanukat HaTorah)

Abraham Joshua Heschel, Dean of the Cracow Yeshiva, distinguished rabbi. ("Saul Wahl", by Dr. Neil Rosenstein page 287)

Author of Chanukas Hatorah: http://www.hebrewbooks.org/33602

From "Tiferes Aryeh"

AB"D Krakow

Essential Figures in Jewish Scholarship By Ronald L. Eisenberg Page 175

Also see: [Sparks Amidst the Ashes: The Spiritual Legacy of Polish Jewry]http://bit.ly/2AvVkgK] By Byron L. Sherwin



From the Encyclopedia Judaica (2007):

Abraham Joshua ben Jacob Heschel (not to be confused with his descendant Abraham Joshua Heschel of the United States) was a talmudic scholar of Lithuania and Poland.

His father was rabbi of the community of Brest-Litovsk and head of its yeshivah, where Abraham Joshua became a teacher as a young man. In 1630 his father was appointed rabbi of Lublin and head of the yeshivah, where Abraham Joshua again assisted him. After his father's death in 1644, he succeeded him as head of the yeshivah. Some scholars claim that he also inherited the rabbinic position, others that he became rabbi of Lublin only in 1650 after the death of Naphtali Katz, who was his father's successor. In 1654, Abraham Joshua became rabbi and head of the yeshivah of Cracow, succeeding the famous Yom Tov Lipmann Heller.

Heschel was a wealthy man, of outstanding piety, and his reputation as a teacher attracted numerous students. A number of them became famous in their own right, among them Shabbetai b. Meir ha-Kohen, Aaron Samuel Koidanover, Gershon Ashkenazi and Hillel of Brest Litovsk. His teaching methods were based on dialectics (pilpul). Heschel's renown as a legal authority spread far and questions were addressed to him from all parts of Europe. Although in many cases he was reluctant to give decisions, when he did, they were brief, logical, and to the point.

During the Chmielnicki persecutions many cases of agunot came before him, and Heschel exercised considerable leniency in dealing with them. In one such instance, involving a certain Jacob (grandfather of Jacob Emden), who was missing after an attack on Vilna, witnesses gave evidence that he had been killed by the Cossacks, and Heschel decided that the wife could remarry; six months later Jacob returned, whereupon Heschel resolved that he would refrain in the future from giving decisions in such matters (see Megillat Sefer by Jacob Emden (1897), 7; and J.M. Zunz, Ir ha-Ẓedek (1874), 111).

He was commissioned by the communities of Poland to solicit aid from the wealthy Jewish communities of Austria, Bohemia, and Moravia for the victims of the Chmielnicki massacres. Heschel was received everywhere with great respect, and his mission was crowned with success. He was supposedly even received by the emperor of Austria who accorded him great honor.

Heschel died in Cracow.

His commentaries on the Sefer Mitzvot Gadol of Moses of Coucy were published in its Kapost edition in 1807; they are short and logical, and reveal a fine command of the Hebrew language. Aaron Kelniker, a student of Heschel's in Lublin, published a work, Toledot Aharon (Lublin, 1682), containing some of his teacher's novellae on Bava Kamma, Bava Meẓia, and Bava Batra, compiled from lecture notes. Later editions were entitled Ḥiddushei Halakhot (Offenbach, 1723; etc.). In the preface, Kelniker briefly described the famous yeshivah of Lublin during his period of studies there under Heschel.

The Ḥanukkat ha-Torah of E.J. Ersohn (1900) contains 600 of Heschel's homilies on the Bible, gathered from different rabbinic sources of the 17th and early 18th centuries. Events connected with Heschel and his time are recorded by the author in the appendix, Kunteres Aharon, which, although containing some legends, also includes much material of historical value. Some of Heschel's responsa are to be found in works of his contemporaries. His novellae and a commentary on the Shulḥan Arukh are still in manuscript.


J.M. Zunz, Ir ha-Ẓedek (1874), 104-14; Kaufmann, in: MGWJ, 39 (1895), 556; E.J. Ersohn, Ḥanukkat ha-Torah (1900); Halpern, Pinkas, 84, n. 1.

------------------------------------------------------------------ From the Yivo Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe:

Avraham Yehoshu‘a ben Ya‘akov Heshel

(1596-1663), rabbi and halakhic authority in Poland-Lithuania.

Born in Brest Litovsk, Avraham Yehoshu‘a Heshel moved with his father to Lublin when the latter was appointed rabbi of the community and head of the yeshiva. With the death in 1650 of Naftali ben Yitsḥak Kats, his father’s heir from 1644, Avraham Yehoshu‘a was appointed head of the Lublin yeshiva. In 1654, he became rabbi and head of the yeshiva of Kraków, succeeding Yom Tov Lipmann Heller.

Avraham Yehoshu‘a came into significant wealth through the family of his first wife, a descendant of the Wahl-Katzenellenbogen family, and he was renowned for his charity toward individuals and the community. After the Khmel’nyts’kyi decrees of 1648-1649 (gzeyres takh vetat), Avraham Yehoshu‘a was appointed by communities in Poland to travel to Austria, Bohemia, and Moravia to request aid for the victims’ families. His trip was successful, and in Vienna he was received by the emperor himself. During this period, Avraham Yehoshu‘a was seriously ill and, in accordance with a custom traditionally prescribed for healing, he added a name to his own-in this case, Avraham.

Avraham Yehoshu‘a’s son, Dov Berish, was a leader of the Kraków community, and his son-in-law was Tsevi Hirsh, head of the rabbinic court in that city. Avraham Yehoshu‘a’s students became communal rabbis and halakhic authorities, the greatest of whom was Shabetai ben Me’ir ha-Kohen, author of the commentary Sifte Kohen, on the Shulḥan ‘arukh.

Avraham Yehoshu‘a’s pedagogic principles held that he would regard students as “friends” who studied according to their own levels, following a developmental approach that first considered the Talmudic text, then Rashi’s commentary and the comments of the Tosafot. Questions would not be raised from other sections of the Talmud until a thorough investigation was undertaken of the law under consideration. In his lectures, Avraham Yehoshu‘a would put forth a difficult issue from the text; students would be challenged to arrive at a resolution before he suggested his own.

Avraham Yehoshu‘a received halakhic queries from throughout Europe. For the most part, he tried to dodge the questions, but when he did respond, it was always tersely and exactly; he shied away from hypothetical theories and restricted himself, as had his father, to actual difficulties and their resolutions. Avraham Yehoshu‘a was lenient regarding the situation of many ‘agunot (“chained” women, unable to remarry) whose husbands had disappeared during the Khmel’nyts’kyi attacks. He was also renowned for his mastery of Hebrew grammar.

In 1862, Aharon Kelniker, a student in Lublin, published commentaries from Avraham Yehoshu‘a’s lectures on three tractates of the Talmud known as Bavot(Bava’ kama’, Bava’ metsi‘a, and Bava’ batra’). Avraham Yehoshu‘a also wrote a commentary, published in 1807, on the Sefer mitsvot gadol(Semag) of Mosheh from Coucy. Numerous other homiletical comments by Avraham Yehoshu‘a on biblical verses were published in Ḥanukat ha-Torah (1900). Several of his responsa are found in books of his contemporaries, and some of his innovative novellae on the Shulḥan ‘arukh are still in manuscript. In more recent times, there has been greater interest in Avraham Yehoshu‘a because of his leadership role in assisting the survivors of gzeyres takh vetat.

Suggested Reading

David Y. Greenfeld, “Ha-Rabi Heshel mi-Krakov,” in Magen bet Sha’ul, pp. 269-300 (Brooklyn, N.Y., 2004); Tsevi Elimelekh Kalish, “Toldot ha-Rabi R. Heshel ve-talmidav,” in Sefer shalosh kedushot, pp. 3-54 (Bene Berak, Isr., 1968/69); Shim‘on Shleser, Sefer otsar ha-Rabi R. Heshel (Jerusalem, 1988/89); Jehiel Mattathias Zunz, ‘Ir ha-tsedek (1874; rpt., [n.p.], Isr., 1970), pp. 104-114.

Author: Shalom Bar-Asher

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------- From Chenowicz, Moshe. Rabbis & Notables of Wlodimierz, in Wladimir Wolynsk: in memory of the Jewish community, 1962:

His son was the renowned sage, outstanding in his generation in his wisdom and Torah knowledge, Rabbi Avraham Joshua Heschel, who was known in the rabbinic world as “Reb Heschel” who renewed the crown of the Torah after the depredations of 1648-1649 and 1656-1657 in Poland. He took his father”s place in the rabbinate (in Lublin and later in Krakow).

About הגאון הקדוש רבי אברהם יהושע העשיל , ר"מ ואב"ד לובלין וקראקא- בעל חנוכת התורה (עברית)

ועיין תיקון טעות בעניין הקשר בין ר' העשל לבין משפחת וואהל

הג"ר העשל אב"ד לובלין וקרקה

אשתו הראשונה הייתה בת הקצין מ' משה ר' ליזרס.ממנה נולד בנם הר' ישכר בעריש.לאחר מותה,נישא מחדש למרת דינה,נכדתו של השר ר' שאול ואהל(מתוך הספר:כתר תורה <מהדורה חדשה> עמוד 357 )



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Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heschel [of Cracow] (Hanukat HaTorah)'s Timeline

Kraków, Kraków County, Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Poland
Krakow, Kraków County, Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Poland
Kraków, Małopolskie, Poland
October 21, 1663
Age 67
Kraków, Kraków County, Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Poland
Age 67
Krakow, Kraków County, Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Poland
Kraków, Kraków County, Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Poland