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Yosef Shemu’el ben Tsevi of Kraków

(d. 1703), rabbi and Talmudist. Born to a rabbinic family in Krzemieniec (Kremenets), Yosef Shemu’el ben Tsevi served as a rabbinic judge in Kraków from 1663 to 1689, when he was appointed rabbi of Frankfurt am Main. There, he established a yeshiva. A scholar of the Talmud and of halakhah, he also had bibliographic and lexicographic interests—along with, apparently, an interest in astronomy and in Kabbalah.

Yosef Shemu’el published nothing during his lifetime and, in an approbation to Mekor ha-ḥayim by Ḥayim Krochmal (1697), he condemned German rabbinic authors for publishing too much. In questioning their motives, he suggested they published for their own profit and benefit. Yosef Shemu’el’s son, Aryeh Leib, ultimately prepared his father’s Talmudic commentary for publication, and it was included in editions of the Talmud published in Amsterdam (1714–1717) and Frankfurt (1720–1723) and was reprinted in later editions from Vienna and Sulzbach. One of Yosef’s responsa is included in Ḥinukh bet Yehudah by Ḥanokh ben Avraham (1710).

Suggested Reading

Ḥayim Nathan Dembitzer, Kelilat yofi, vol. 2, pp. 144b–151a (1893; rpt., Jerusalem, 1988/89); Raphael Natan Nata Rabbinovicz, Ma’amar ‘al hadpasat ha-Talmud: Toldot hadpasat ha-Talmud, ed. Abraham Meir Habermann (Jerusalem, 1951/52).



Translated from Hebrew by Deborah Weissman