||R. Jacob Joshua b. Zevi Hirsch Falk (1680–1756), was born in Cracow and was a descendant of R. Joshua Heschel b. Joseph of Cracow, the author of Meginnei Shelomo. He studied in Polish yeshivot and took up residence in Lemberg after his marriage to the daughter of R. Solomon Segal Landau, an important member of that community. There he was appointed inspector of the talmud torah. He became wealthy and was a leader of the community. In 1702 his wife, daughter, mother-in-law, and her father were killed by the explosion of a gunpowder storehouse, and he himself was miraculously saved. As a result he vowed "to apply himself diligently to the study of the Talmud and the Codes" (Introduction to the Penei Yehoshu'a). He left Lemberg and served as rabbi in the communities of Tarlow, Kurow, and Lesko (Lisko) successively. In 1717 he was invited to become rabbi of Lemberg, succeeding R. Zevi Hirsch Ashkenazi (the Hakham Zevi). His yeshivah became the central yeshivah of Poland. Falk was one of the most extreme opponents of the Shabbatean movement, then gaining ground in Poland, and he excommunicated the Shabbateans in 1722. In consequence of the opposition he had aroused, he was compelled to leave Lemberg in 1724 and went to Buczacz where he lived for some years. Between 1730 and 1734 he served as rabbi of Berlin. He then accepted an invitation to succeed R. Jacob Reischer as rabbi of Metz and remained there until 1741.
From Metz he went to frankfort where he was rabbi until 1751. The hostile attitude of the town authorities and internal communal quarrels following his intervention in the controversy around R. Jonathan Eybeschuetz, in which he sided with R. Jacob Emden, caused his resignation and departure from the city, and he lived for a time in Mannheim and Worms. He continued his campaign against R. Eybeschuetz, sending him a letter entitled "the final warning" on Sivan 11, 1751 and in 1752 excommunicated him. In response to the demands of the Altona community that he rescind the ban, R. Falk demanded that Eybeschuetz appear before a bet din of three ordained rabbis to answer for his actions. R. H. J. D. Azulai, who repeatedly praised R. Falk's wide knowledge (as well as that of his second wife), visited him in Worms in 1754. R. Falk told him some "dismaying details" about the affair, and R. Azulai expressed his shock at the "desecration of the Torah and the defamation of the Divine Name" as a result of the publication of the dispute between the Jewish scholars. From Worms R. Falk went to Offenbach, where he died. He was buried in Frankfort and although he requested that no eulogy should be said after his death he was eulogized by R. Ezekiel Landau.
R. Falk became renowned through his Penei Yehoshu'a, regarded as one of the outstanding works of novellae on the Talmud. Since R. Falk's grandfather published responsa under the same title ("The Face of Joshua"), the grandson called his work Appei Zutrei ("The Small Face") to distinguish it from Ravrevei ("The Large Face") of his grandfather. The work is distinguished by its penetrating explanation of difficult talmudic themes. Originally published in separate parts - Berakhot and the order Mo'ed (Frankfort, 1752); Ketubbot, Gittin, and Kiddushin, with Kunteres Aharon (Amsterdam, 1739); Bava Kamma and Bava Mezia (Frankfort, 1756), Hullin, Makkot, and Shevu'ot and a second edition on Mo'ed and the Tur, Hoshen Mishpat (Fuerth, 1780 - it was published together for the first time in Lemberg in 1809. Among his other works still in manuscript the following may be noted: Sefer Minhat Ani, novellae to Eruvin, Niddah, and Yevamot; Kelal Gadol, on the problem of "rov and hazakah" (i.e., where the principle of following the majority, rov, conflicts with that of a previous presumption, hazakah), and responsa. Only a few of his responsa have been published (in various collections). His purpose was "to explain most of the difficulties raised by the tosafists on Rashi's commentary... as well as such points as the tosafists leave unsolved, or for which they admit that their solution is unsatisfactory, or where their answer appears forced." In his introduction to the Penei Yehoshu'a he asserts that he always took care that his conclusions should be in conformity with the halakhah of the Talmud and the Codes and was careful not to commit to writing any novellae which did not conform with the truth, "but whenever something new occurred to me on a talmudic topic or in explanation of Rashi and tosafot and it appeared to me to approximate to the truth, according to the method of our predecessors and teachers, I accepted it." He also stresses that his sole purpose was "to stimulate the scholar and to bring about a more profound analysis on the part of those who already know how to arrive at halakhic decisions." These features of the work explain its constant popularity among students, and its frequent reprints. He emphasizes that Kabbalah is sometimes of help in explaining the aggadot; but despite his reliance on the Zohar and on the works of kabbalists (Penei Yehoshu'a to Ber. 10a) he declares "we have no dealings with esoteric lore."
|| פנים חדשות אשר לא יצא לאור עולם... על מסכתות חולין, מכות, שבועו' ועל חושן משפט... וכהיום קם בנו תחתיו... ר' ליבש נר"ו אב"ד ור"מ דק"ק הנובר... לגמר הדבר בכי טוב (המביא... לבית הדפוס... אברהם בלא"א... מהו' יהודה ליב פרידבורג זצ"ל)... בשנת ו'שא'ב'תם מ'י'ם' בששון מ'מעיני' י'ה'ו'ש'ע' [תק"ם].
דף לג,א-לד,ב: ליקוטים מבעל המחבר. חידושים על פסחים. דף לה,א-לז,ב: ליקוטים... מנכד המחבר... ר' בערוש נר"ו בן... ר' ארי' ליב נר"ו... בן המחבר. חידושים על פסחים, יומא, יבמות ובבא בתרא. דף לז,ב-מ,א: מהדורא בתרא על ברכות, ביצה וראש השנה. דף נה,א-עח,ב: קצת חידושי ב"ק מהרב... מהר"ל [ר' אריה ליב] אב"ד דק"ק הנובר בן של המחבר... מספרו הגדול פני ארי' ובסופו השגות ע"ז מאבי... וקצת תשובות עליהם שקבלתי מיד... מהר"ל הנ"ל... והם קצתם מהרב... בערוש נר"ו בן של... מהר"ל הנ"ל. וקצתם שהשיב... בעצמו... אברהם בלא"א... מהו' יהודה ליב פרידבורג זצ"ל. דף עח,ב-פא,ב: קצת חידושי הלכות... מהרב ... מהורי"ל פרידבורג זצ"ל... על ב"מ.